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Choppergate: Indian officials postpone grilling middleman Haschke

However, the ministry of defence added later that Indian officials are likely to examine  Haschke during the ongoing proceedings of the case in an Italian court on 13 December, after reports of the authorities not grilling the middleman raised eyebrows in the corridors of power.

After Friday’s hearing, ‘Our lawyer has reserved the right to question the American-Swiss national Haschke’, they said. During the ‘next hearing in the case on 13 December in a court in Milan, our lawyer will put questions to him,’ they said.

Haschke’s  statement to the court in Milan on his role in the Rs 3,600 crore chopper scam is expected to shed light on the high-profile corruption scandal. According to reports from Italy, Haschke has claimed that 6 million euros were paid to air force officials and 8.4 million euros to the bureaucracy. He maintains that a number of politicians were also paid kickbacks.

The reports said that the money was part of draft budget prepared by the middlemen on a paper for the deal in which air force has been written as ‘AF’ and politicians have been referred to as ‘pol’.

In the last hearing, Haschke had said that he had met former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi six to seven times, while recounting his role in the scandal. He said that there was a plan to divide a commission of 7 per cent of the worth of the deal with the three Tyagi brothers, cousins of then Air chief SP Tyagi.

The alleged middleman also recounted the various meetings at multiple locations between him and his accomplices in the whole episode in Rome and Dubai.

In the hearing, the crucial middleman, who was recently arrested by Italian authorities after being extradited by Swiss authorities, had said he had kept aside seven per cent of the deal as his share and for paying the three Tyagi cousins.

He said the 50 per cent of the total money was to be paid to the other middleman Christian Michel and the money to be paid was to be routed through the engineering services contract as part of the deal.

The defence ministry is expected to scrap the deal for the 12 VVIP choppers after it found that the Anglo-Italian firm violated the pre-contract integrity pact with India. AgustaWestland and the Tyagi brothers have denied any wrongdoing on their behalf in the deal worth Rs. 3,600 crore.
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