2013 Indian helicopter bribery scandal
In early 2013, an Indian parliamentary investigation began into allegations of bribery and corruption involving several senior officials and helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland surrounding the purchase of a new fleet of helicopters. The scandal has been referred to as the Chopper scam, or Choppergate by elements of the media and popular press.
Several Indian politicians and military officials have been accused of accepting bribes from AgustaWestland in order to win the 36 billion (US$580 million) Indian contract for the supply of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters; these helicopters are intended to perform VVIP duties for the President of India and other important state officials. Ahmed Patel political secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi is alleged by Italian prosecutors to have received kickbacks from the deal. A note dating back to March 15, 2008 presented in the Italian court also indicates that Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP chopper purchase. And it further asks middleman Peter Hulett to target key advisors to Sonia Gandhi and lists the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee, M. Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandez, M. K. Narayanan, Vinay Singh. The note also contains the bribes to be paid out divided as, "AF" €6 Million, "BUR" €8.4 Million, "Pol" €6 Million and "AP" €3 Million.
On 25 March 2013, India's Defence Minister A.K. Antony confirmed corruption allegations by stating : "Yes, corruption has taken place in the helicopter deal and bribes have been taken. The CBI is pursuing the case very vigorously".
India signed a contract to purchase 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters in February 2010 for the Communication Squadron of Indian Air Force, to carry the president, PM and other VVIPs. Controversy over the contract came to light on 12 February 2013, with the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland's parent company by Italian authorities; the following day Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony ordered a probe into the contract.
First Information Report (FIR)
On 25 February 2013, CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against 11 persons, including the former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, and his cousins, besides four companies. After carrying out the preliminary enquiry, the CBI found sufficient evidence and registered an FIR on 13 March. The FIR named 13 persons including: former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, his three brothers: Juli, Docsa and Sandeep, brother of former Union minister Santosh Bagrodia, Satish Bagrodia, Pratap Aggarwal (Chairman and Managing Director of IDS Infotech). The FIR also named four companies - Italy-based Finmeccanica, UK-based AgustaWestland and Chandigarh-based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix.
Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigation
On 27 February 2013, UPA-II Government introduced a motion in Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Parliament of India) for an investigation led by a 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). The motion was passed after a walkout by most of the opposition parties like BJP, JD(U), Trinamool Congress, CPI, TDP and AGP. During the debate, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said the JPC was an "exercise in futility" and "diversionary tactic". He argued that the case involved various legal aspects such as extradition of accused foreigners and custodial interrogation and the JPC can have "none of these powers", leaving it ineffective. Many opposition members demanded Supreme Court-monitored investigation (on the similar lines of 2G spectrum scam). Demands were also made to establish money trail and issue Letter Rogatory (LR).
The UPA government initially denied all allegations and claimed it has "nothing to hide" and that "our track record is not cover up".
TDP MPs Nama Nageswara Rao, Devender Goud and others said they had strong evidence to state that the late Chief Minister Dr.YS Rajasekhara Reddy son-in-law brother, Anil Kumar was involved in the Agusta helicopter scam and they would submit it to the CBI.
On 2 September 2009, a helicopter carrying Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy went missing in the Nallamala forest area. The next morning media reported that the helicopter wreckage had been found on top of Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Kurnool. This was later confirmed by the Prime Minister's office. The five people aboard were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
The Committee probe into the YSR accident was critical of the A.P. Aviation Corporation Ltd (APACL) to allow the Chief Minister to travel by an older helicopter, airworthiness of which was doubtful instead of pressing into service its new acquisition, the Agusta Westland (AW – 139) chopper. The APACL, according to the committee probe, handed over maintenance to O&M and reduced its strength of personnel. But “for reasons best known”, the Corporation continued to hire M/s OSS Management Services which itself did not possess adequate manpower or professionalism. The Committee said the Rs. 61 crore Agusta Westland’s “procurement, contract administration and O&M lacked professionalism” and recommended an independent audit into it. The circumstances leading to the extension of service of then APACL Chief Operating Officer Capt. Jagan Manthena and his role in these aspects also needed a thorough examination.
Captain Jagan Manthena was the member (technical) of the high-level committee which finalised the tenders for the purchase of the Agusta AW139 helicopter. Capt.Jagan Manthena now works as a pilot at Heligo Charters. Heligo Charters are related to Sharp Ocean Investments and Oss Air Management, and also a member of the JV Gokal Group.
A complaint has been filed seeking an investigation into the sale of 21 civil helicopters worth over Rs 7,000 crore (US$1.6 billion) by AgustaWestland between 2005-2013 in India. As per the complaint Agusta Westland has been selling civil helicopters in India through its agent Sharp Ocean Investments Limited, which is promoted by twin brothers Nayan Jagjivan and Nakul Jagjivan. Tax authorities in India have been asked to probe the possibility of tax evasion by Sharp Ocean on the commission received for the sale of helicopters and foreign exchange deprivation to the country by off-shoring payments for the sale of helicopters in India.
Separately, the Comptroller and Auditor General, in its latest report, has indicted the Chhattisgarh government for overpaying Rs.65 lakh (US$120,000) for the purchase of a VVIP chopper -an Agusta A-109 Power helicopter from Sharp Ocean Investment Ltd and its India representative, OSS Air Management. Both companies are promoted by twin brothers Nayan Jagjivan and Nakul Jagjivan.
Cancellation of the contract by the Indian Government
India cancelled the 3,600 crore deal with Augusta Westland deal in Jan,2014.The decision to annul the 2010 deal, being probed by CBI for irregularities, came after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony in New Delhi .The government cancelled the contract "on grounds of breach of the Pre-contract Integrity Pact and the agreement by AWIL (AgustaWestland International Ltd)" .The contract was frozen in February,2013 after allegations surfaced that Rs 360 crore was paid as bribe. 
Role of Union Law Ministry and Indian President in CBI probe
The CBI approached Union Law Ministry to record statements of M. K. Narayanan and M V Wanchoo in Jan,2014. M K Narayanan and Bharat Vir Wanchoo were West Bengal and Goa Governers respectively at the time of CBI's request. The statements of M K Narayanan and M V Wanchoo were considered vital as they were national security adviser and special protection chief at the time of signing of contract with Augusta Westland. Their views were also considered before Indian Government signed the contract with Augusta Westland. However Kapil Sibal 's Union Law ministry in January,2014 stonewalled CBI probe by rejecting CBI's request to examine them under the usual excuse of 'immunity'. The CBI therefore approached President Pranab Mukherjee to seek permission to examine ex-NSA and ex-SPG. The ball is in President's court now.
- "SEARCH RESULTS FOR Choppergate". India Today. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Chopper scam: Long-drawn legal battle ahead". The Hindu. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
- "Bribes were taken in the VVIP helicopter deal, admits Defense Minister AK Antony". India today. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Emilio Parodi and Stephen Jewkes (12 February 2013). "Finmeccanica head arrested over India bribe allegations". Reuters.
- "VVIP chopper deal scam: Italy arrests Finmeccanica CEO, India orders CBI probe". ZEE News. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- "Chopper Deal: BJP Attacks UPA, Says It's 'Raining Scams'". Feb 15, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "St Antony needs to be decanonised". Feb 13, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "CBI probe ordered". February 13, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Italy arrests Finmeccanica CEO, India orders CBI probe". February 13, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "CBI names Tyagi, cousins in PE". February 25, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "CBI registers FIR against former Air chief SP Tyagi". Mar 13, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "CBI files FIR against Air Force ex-chief SP Tyagi, 11 others". Mar 13, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Parliament passes JPC probe into chopper scam". Indian Express. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- "Govt adopts motion for JPC probe, opposition walks out". FirstPost. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Bro Anil was involved in Agusta helicopter scam-TDP | Agusta company | CPI Secretary Narayana". Apnewscorner.com. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- "YSR, 4 others killed in chopper crash". Ndtv.com. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- "National : YSR’s death in helicopter crash: Tyagi panel raps several agencies". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- "AP’s new chopper to fly VVIPs". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- "Jaganmohan MANTHENA". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- Probe sought into the other Agusta deal
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "The Week | Choppy deal". Week.manoramaonline.com. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- "Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland scrapped in view of bribery allegations".
- "CBI seeks Home, Law ministries’ advice to examine B V Wanchoo, M K Narayanan".
- "VVIP chopper deal: CBI seeks President's permission to question Narayanan, Wanchoo".