5 May 2015
An Italian court’s judgment shows that Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary took a kickback amounting to $17 million from the middlemen in the alleged purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland in her native land.

An Italian appeals court sentenced former Finmeccanica chief executive Giuseppe Orsi to four and a half years in prison for corruption and falsifying invoices. Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica was given a four-year jail term on the same charges.
Now that the bribe givers have been punished what happens to the bribe takers.

Former IAF chief S P Tyagi had an understanding with AgustaWestland people that for a fee he would offer information and help.  Fee was agreed at 10.5 million Euros. Of which, according to Guido Haschke who acted as the middleman in the bribe, 3 million Euros was paid. The Tyagi brothers received 100,000 Euros in cash.
Specifications were altered and tender documents were amended to ensure the contract went to AgustaWestland.  The Italian court revealed that companies in India and Tunisia were used to cover up the tracts of the bribe money.

India has been working hard to eradicate corruption but it still persists there. If there is no corruption at the top level the corruption down the line will go away by itself.  This case is a good example.
Political secretary of Sonia pocketed a bribe of $17 Million.  Even when the government knew that former IAF chief S P Tyagi negotiated a kickback of 10.5 million Euros from AgustaWestland people, they could not take any action against him. Because if they opened investigations against him Sonia’s corruption would have come to light. So in order to cover up the top level corruption they had to connive at lower level corruption.
When Tyagi negotiated his kickback he knew that Sonia’s political secretary was taking a cut. Therefore, he could boldly negotiate his cut. There were many intermediaries involved. Each of them had his share. So all these pay-outs were loaded on to the price of the helicopters.
This deal was tainted from inception. If India can build and send satellites to other planets, why can’t she build her own helicopters be they VIP or VVIP.

The scandal took place during the power of former defence minister AK Antony. He claimed that as soon as the allegations surfaced on the media, his government cancelled the contract and recovered the advances paid to the helicopter company.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that the ongoing probe will focus on those named in the Italian court judgement. He will also find out who prevented a proper investigation earlier.
Italian court has already revealed the names of Indian politicians and officials involved in the scam. The Italian prosecutors have done an excellent job in getting full facts of the case. All those involved in the scam are high level people. It will be very difficult to bring them to justice. Let us wait and see what the present government does to bring the culprits to justice.