Mid­dle­man told Agusta about NDA’s rule change

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ab­hishek Sha­ran let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: A Euro­pean mid­dle­man al­legedly tipped off Agus­taWest­land on Oc­to­ber 20, 2003 about a cru­cial spec­i­fi­ca­tion change a month be­fore the then NDA gov­ern­ment of­fi­cially rec­om­mended the al­ter­ations that ben­e­fit­ted the con­tro­ver­sial de­fence firm.

Ital­ian court doc­u­ments be­ing ex­am­ined by the CBI al­legedly show mid­dle­man Guido Haschke al­legedly alerted Agus­taWest­land of­fi­cials about the pos­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment re­duc­ing the manda­tory fly­ing al­ti­tude — known as the ser­vice ceil­ing — of VVIP chop­pers from 6,000m to 4,500m.

The al­leged com­mu­ni­ca­tion took place a month be­fore a meet­ing chaired by then Prime Min­is­ter Atal Be­hari Va­j­payee’s prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary Bra­jesh Mishra on Novem­ber 19, 2003. The rev­e­la­tion might add more fuel to an on­go­ing bat­tle be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Congress over the con­tro­ver­sial 2010 deal as the doc­u­ments in­di­cate mid­dle­men had ac­cess to the cor­ri­dors of power be­fore the Congress-led UPA ad­min­is­tra­tion took over.

Haschke al­legedly got the in­for­ma­tion from cousins of for­mer air force chief SP Tyagi, who was then a se­nior of­fi­cer. The CBI and the en­force­ment direc­torate are prob­ing Tyagi for al­legedly ac­cept­ing bribes via his cousins to ap­prove the tweak­ing of the ser­vice ceil­ing, which he did on March 14, 2005. All the ac­cused have de­nied al­le­ga­tions. CON­TIN­UED ON P10 RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P9

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