VVIP Chopper Case: CBI Chargesheet Against Ex National Auditor SK Sharma

VVIP Chopper Scam: The agency has also sought sanction to prosecute SA Kunte, Deputy Chief Testing Pilot, Thomas Mathew, Wing Commander IAF and Group Captain N Santosh.

Shashi Kant Sharma was Joint Secretary (Air) in the Defence Ministry between 2003 and 2007

New Delhi:

Former Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and former Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar were charged by the CBI today in the Agusta-Westland case involving corruption in the purchase of VVIP choppers.

With the Defence Ministry giving its clearance, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet in the Rs 3,200 crore case, naming Shashi Kant Sharma and four other senior Indian Air Force officials as accused in the case.

Mr Sharma was Joint Secretary (Air) in the Defence Ministry between 2003 and 2007 and went on to become Defence Secretary (2011-13) and auditor (2013-2017).

The agency has also sought sanction to prosecute SA Kunte, Deputy Chief Testing Pilot, Thomas Mathew, Wing Commander IAF and Group Captain N Santosh.

The case involves alleged bribery to swing a deal for AgustaWestland to provide 12 VVIP helicopters to India for top leaders including the President, Prime Minister and others.

AgustaWestland allegedly landed the deal despite being ineligible as its helicopters did not meet the 6,000-meter operational ceiling parameter set by the Indian Air Force.

The CBI's Special Investigation Team took over the case in 2016 and filed the first chargesheet against former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi and 11 others on September 1, 2017.

The former Air Chief is accused of recommending a reduction in the operational ceiling of the helicopters, despite objections, to help AgustaWestland, the CBI has alleged.

The CBI alleges that Air Chief Marshal Tyagi did this on the bidding of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland's top executives, who engaged the services of three middlemen -- Christian Michel, Guido Haschke and Carlos Gerosa.

Christian Michel was extradited to India in 2018. He is currently in the Tihar jail.

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