Middleman told Agusta about NDA’s rule change
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