Praful Patel hopes guilty will be punished in copter scam

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 14, 2013 09:30 hrs

Amid the ongoing war of words between the government and the opposition over the AgustaWestland copter scam, Union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel on Thursday said Defence Minister A.K. Antony has already ordered a CBI probe in the matter and the guilty will be punished.

"I have read the Defence Minister's statement and also saw it on the television. And he has clearly said that a CBI inquiry will be conducted in the matter and nobody found guilty will be spared," said Patel.

"And a lot of revelations have been made now. I expect that the CBI begins its probe in the matter and whosoever will be the culprit will be punished," he added.

The Defence Minister on Wednesday said that strong action will be taken against those found guilty.

"Nobody will be spared whatever may be the consequences," Antony told media on the alleged Italian chopper scam.

Former Air Chief S.P. Tyagi has rubbished allegations that he was paid a bribe to swing the approximately Rs. 3600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, which involved procuring twelve choppers from the Italian firm Finmeccanica.

Expressing his shock and disbelief over his name being involved in the scam, Air Chief Marshal (Retired) Tyagi said: "These allegations are totally baseless and I am denying them categorically."

"The deal was signed in 2010, whereas I retired in 2007. All changes in requirements and specifications have to be approved by Ministry of Defence," Tyagi told media here yesterday, while countering allegations that the tender for the helicopters may have been tweaked under his influence.

"The tender was issued at my time, but no specifications were changed in my tenure," he added.

Asked about his relations with three alleged middlemen for the deal, including one 'former IAF officer identified as Captain Tyagi', the former IAF chief said the officer concerned was his cousin, but added that their relationship did not go beyond this.

The copter scam has unfolded with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company.

Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested on Tuesday in Rome, had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010.

The company is suspected of paying bribes in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs, prompting the government to order a CBI probe. (ANI)

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