Uproar Over AgustaWestland Chopper Deal In Parliament; Sonia Defends Herself

On April 7, an Italian appeals court sentenced Giuseppe Orsi, former Finmeccanica chief executive, to four and a half years in prison for corruption and falsifying invoices in the 2010 AugustaWestland chopper deal with India. The court also sentenced Bruno Spagnolini, former head of AgustaWestland to four years imprisonment. The deal was cancelled in 2013.

The ripples from the wave touched India’s parliament today.

The judgement says that an arrested middleman named Guido Haschke identified all the Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel.

As the BJP got ready to corner Sonia Gandhi in the Rajya Sabha today through Subramanian Swamy, Congress created an uproar preventing Swamy from speaking.



But Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the investigation in India is in an advanced stage and told the Parliament that the “identity of the bribe taker” has to be established.


Yesterday, the Congress used its official Twitter handle to defend Sonia’s name.


Today Gandhi countered with an accusation on the BJP.


The Italian court also said that former Indian Air Force Chief S.P. Tyagi too was involved in the Rs.3,600-crore-plus deal to sell 12 VVIP choppers to India.


Of the 225-page judgement by the Milan Court of Appeals, 17 pages are on Tyagi alone. The court said that a part of the $10-15 million in illicit deals were paid to Indian officials in the form of bribe.

Tyagi and his family members are accused of having received a huge portion of the funds.

“So, in the absence of contrary indications, it must be concluded that the reward bestowed to ‘Tyagi family’ for their work in support of AW in relation to the race of the Government [of] India for military helicopters amounts to €. 10,500,000.”

Tyagi has denied any involvement.

But the other prominent name that the court took was of Congress president Soina Gandhi. Gandhi has been mentioned four times in the judgement as Signora Gandhi (Signora is Italian for Mrs or Madam).

Sonia’s name is mentioned in page 193 and 204 of the judgement. Even former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name appears in page no 163 and 164. It reads that Orsi used Italian leadership and diplomats to contact Singh to scuttle the probe by non-cooperation from the Indian Government’s side.

In documents seized by investigators and cited in the judegement is a letter in which Gandhi has been mentioned as being the “driving force” behind India’s decision to go for the AugustaWestland choppers for VVIPs.


The letter is dated March 15, 2008 and was written by Christian Michel, a middleman on the run, to Peter Hulet, the then India head of AugustaWestland.

Michael, however, denies having met any Gandhi family member. He tells The Hindu that “my one saving grace is that I have never ever met one single Gandhi, ever in my life”. He admits that he did meet some “retired service people”.

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