Former Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal SP Tyagi and Delhi based lawyer Gautam Khaitan have been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for their alleged involvement in the VVIP Chopper scam.
This is the first time that a former chief of the armed forces has been arrested. Tyagi's brother - a Delhi based businessman- Sanjeev Tyagi was also arrested by the CBI.
Tyagi, also known as "Bundles" served as the Chief of Air Staff between December 2004 and March 2007 and had fought in the 1965 and 1971 India-Pakistan war.
In 2010 the UPA government bought 12 Helicopters from AgustaWestland - a subsidiary of Italian Defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica – for a total cost of ₹360 crore to ferry dignitaries like the President, Prime Minister and Union Ministers. The UPA government put the contract on hold in 2013 following allegations of bribery and the arrest of chairman and CEO Finmeccanica in Italy.
It was alleged that about 12 percent of the contract value was routed back into India through shell companies as kickbacks.
Although Tyagi wasn't the IAF chief when the government decided to buy the AugustaWestland helicopters, it is alleged that he, through his brothers, revealed crucial commercial information for bribes.
During the negotiations to buy the choppers, critical specifications like the maximum flying height was reduced from 6,000m to 4,500m and the minimum cabin height was increased. Crucial information like these were leaked to AugustaWestland for which Tyagi received bribes, the CBI alleges.
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