European middleman Guido Haschke, an accused in the VVIP helicopter bribery scandal, has said he had relations with the cousins of former Indian Air Force Chief SP Tyagi, but claimed he was not aware of any illegal gratification to clinch the deal.
During his deposition before a court in Milan, Haschke claimed he knew the cousins of former IAF Chief — Juli, Dosca and Sanjeev Tyagi — who have been named in the FIR filed by CBI which is probing the case in India, top sources said.
At the hearing in which a CBI officer was also present, the middleman denied having knowledge of any bribes given to the then air chief.
CBI suspects that AgustaWestland allegedly paid bribes worth 51 million euros through IDS Infotech Tunisia and its subsidiary in Mauritius and India, in which Haschke was a Director, in the form of engineering contracts using fake invoices.
Haschke denied the allegation saying that the money which was routed to India was only for paying for the engineering work done by IDS and to meet the administrative costs incurred by it.
He admitted to having good relations with the cousins of SP Tyagi but claimed he had never met the former air chief, CBI sources said here.
Haschke, who was arrested in Switzerland and extradited to Italy, is facing trial in a Milan court for alleged corrupt activities along with top executives of AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica.
Taking a tough stand, India had on January 1 scrapped the helicopter deal, nearly a year after allegations surfaced that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 360 crore were paid to bag the contract.
The Milan court had allowed Indian authorities to examine Haschke in the bribery case, which is being heard in Italy.
It is for the first time that CBI is part of Haschke's examination, which has been done by the Defence Ministry officials through their lawyers in the court.
The helicopter supply contract is under probe by Italian agencies and CBI for alleged kickbacks paid to Indian officials — including former air chief Tyagi — to clinch the deal. Tyagi has denied allegations of any kickbacks.
Haschke is one of the 13 accused named in the FIR filed by CBI.
"Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa (both middlemen) managed to send 5.6 million euros through Mohali-based IDS Infotech and Chandigarh-based Aeromatrix Info Solutions Private Ltd to India and kept the remaining amount of about 24.30 million euros received from AgustaWestland with themselves in the account of IDS Tunisia," the CBI FIR in the case states.
The Italian prosecutor who carried out the preliminary inquiry in Milan has alleged that the CEO of Finmeccanica, the parent company of the UK-based AgustaWestland, had used services of middlemen to bribe Indian officials.