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VVIP Chopper Scam: CBI Chargesheet against Ex-Defence Secy Shashi Kant Sharma

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday has filed a supplementary charge sheet against former CAG and former Defense Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and several retired Air Force officers in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, according to sources.

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According to sources, CBI has got sanction for prosecution against Shashi Kant Sharma. The CBI had sought sanction to prosecute Sharma for alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

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Mr Sharma was Joint Secretary (Air) in the Defence Ministry between 2003 and 2007 and went on to become Defence Secretary (2011-13) and auditor (2013-2017).

The central probe agency also named the then Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar (now retired), deputy chief test pilot S A Kunte, the then Wing Commander Thomas Mathew and Group Captain N Santosh, they said.

Kunte and Santosh retired as air commodore.

The alleged scam relates to the acquisition of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.

The CBI’s Special Investigation Team took over the case in 2016 and the first charge sheet was filed against former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi and 11 others on September 1, 2017.

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The need for new helicopters to ferry VVIPs — the president, the prime minister, the vice president and the defence minister — was felt in 1999 when a proposal was moved to find an alternative to the IAF’s Soviet-era Mi8s.

The CBI has accused then IAF Chief S P Tyagi of recommending reduction in the operational ceiling of the helicopters from 6,000 meters to 4,500 meters which brought AgustaWestland into the race, the CBI has alleged.

The IAF was strongly opposed to the changes but when Tyagi became the chief, he recommended it, the agency has alleged.

This, according to the CBI, was allegedly done at the behest of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland top executives who engaged the services of three middlemen — Christian Michel, Guido Haschke and Carlos Gerosa — who allegedly paid bribes to Tyagi and his cousins Rajiv, Sandeep and Julie.

The agency has alleged that Michel’s firms received about 42.27 million Euros, approximately seven per cent of the deal amount, from the companies to swing the Rs 3,600-crore deal in their favour.

The bribes were allegedly routed through companies of Michel and an advocate, Gautam Khaitan, in the form of multiple contracts through layered transactions to camouflage them.

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The first charge sheet in the case was filed in September 2017 naming former IAF chief Tyagi and others. It was followed by another charge sheet in September 2020 against Michel and others.

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