Indian police launch sweeping probe of AW101 deal

Singapore
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India's Central Bureau of Investigation has opened cases against 13 individuals and six companies related to alleged bribery in a 2010 deal for 12 VIP-roled AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.

The agency also conducted raids at 14 locations in the Indian cities of New Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Mohali, the CBI said in a statement. The cases were filed under the country's 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act.

Although it does not mention individuals or companies by name, the CBI says that a case has been filed against "then Chief of Air Staff" at the time of the deal, a reference to former air force chief SP Tyagi. Cases have also been filed against an "Italy-based private company and its then CEO", and a "UK-based company and its then CEO".

The European companies are Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland. The chief executives of both companies were arrested in Italy during mid-February amid allegations of corruption related to the AW101 deal.

The CBI has also brought cases against three "foreign nationals" and a "Mauritius-based private company, a Tunisia-based company and other unknown persons".

"It is further alleged that in the procurement process of the helicopters, some persons acted as middlemen and have allegedly influenced the deal in favour of UK-based company," says the CBI. "It is also alleged that [the] Italy-based company paid commission in terms of several millions of euros to the middlemen. The middlemen from their share of commission allegedly paid huge sums of money to some Indian nationals in the garb of engineering contracts with two India-based companies."

The CBI statement comes just days after Indian media reported that the CBI was interviewing Tyagi and relatives in regard to the allegations.

Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing related to the 2010 deal. Tyagi, for his part, also denies the allegations.