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India's CBI questions former air chief about AW101 deal: reports

Indian media reports indicate that the country's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is questioning former air force chief SP Tyagi in relation to the procurement of 12 VIP-roled AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.

The CBI is also questioning two of his cousins related to the 2010 helicopter acquisition, say the reports, which quoted unnamed sources.

Although Tyagi retired in 2007, there are allegations that he received kickbacks in order to influence the parameters of the competition in 2006 so as to assist AgustaWestland's AW101 bid. Tyagi has consistently denied the allegations. In addition, AgustaWestland and its parent Finmeccanica deny any wrongdoing.

Speaking at the Heli-Expo convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, AgustaWestland's newly-appointed chief executive Daniele Romiti maintained this stance.

"As we stated, no wrong moves were made by the company, so we are confident of that," Romiti says. "The selection, generally speaking, is made in a competitive environment."

Romiti replaced Bruno Spagnolini, who resigned following his arrest on 12 February by Italian authorities in relation to the deal. Italian authorities also arrested the head of AgustaWestland parent Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, who headed the helicopter unit from 2007 to 2011.

New Delhi has received three AW101s so far, and AgustaWestland continues to train Indian air force crews at Yeovil in Somerset, the UK. New Delhi, however, has suspended payments for the €560 million ($734 million) contract.

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