AgustaWestland Offshoot: Former Brigadier’s Bribery Case Closed By CBI

Seven years after registering an FIR against a retired Brigadier for fudging field trial records of helicopters as an offshoot of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper corruption case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a closure report as it didn’t find any concrete evidence against him, agency officials said.

The case was registered in 2014 after the CBI received a new tranche of documents from Italy, where a note mentioned that Brig V S Saini had allegedly asked for 5-million Euros to help Agusta. Saini was charged with fudging the trial flight records of reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters that the government wanted to procure.

Besides Saini, the FIR also mentioned unidentified officers of the Army, Defence Ministry and a private company. The case was registered under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, including abuse of official position, and Indian Penal Code, including forgery. The CBI had alleged Brig Saini was part of the team carrying out trials of competing helicopters in the Light Utility Helicopter category.

Army aviation was looking at purchasing 197 light helicopters to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet, which undertakes reconnaissance and casualty evacuation operations in forward locations and high-altitude areas like Siachen, Ladakh, North Kashmir and Northeast.

The acquisition process of 197 helicopters was cancelled in December 2007 after the deal was finalised. The Italian prosecutors found mention of Brig Saini in the documents seized during their probe into VVIP chopper scam.

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