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AgustaWestland scam: CBI quizzes Goa governor

Panaji, July 4 (IBNS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is quizzing Goa Governor BV Wanchoo on Friday as a witness in the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam.

Wanchoo was the chief of the Special Protection Group or the SPG, which gives protection to the Prime Minister.

Earlier, the CBI had quizzed former West Bengal governor M K Narayanan in connection with the AugustaWestland chopper deal. Narayanan resigned as the governor only recently.

Narayanan, who was a National Security Advisor in 2005 during the deal, was questioned as a witness in the case too.

Reports said Wanchoo might resign too. Wanchoo was reportedly close to the Gandhi family, media reports said.

Earlier, the government had issued show cause notice to the AgustaWestland of UK, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica, on bribery charges in the Rs.4000-crore VVIP chopper deal.

Besides bribing Indian officials for a 12-helicopter deal, Finmeccanica discussed kickbacks for a larger deal with a serving Brigadier in the Indian Army, Italian prosecutors had said.

The report by the investigators said that an alleged middleman for helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, touched the feet of former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.

The scandal involved kickbacks worth upto Rs 360 crores for the deal that was worth about Rs 4,000 crores and allegedly took place during the tenure of Tyagi who headed the air force from 2004 to 2007.

Tyagi had denied the allegations and said that he met one of the alleged AgustaWestland middlemen just once contrary to the charges of “six or seven” meetings.

The middleman Ralph Haschke “confessed” that he met Tyagi six or seven times and once greeted him by touching his feet as a sign of respect, the Italian prosecutors said.

The Italian inquiry also found that in 2003, a serving Brigadier of the Indian Army allegedly demanded $5 million dollars to influence a contract for 197 light helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland.

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