What is AgustaWestland Chopper Scam? Choppergate, An Overview


AgustaWestland Scam - ChopperGate

First, you must understand the overview of the scam before jumping into the details. This you will help you to get a brief idea so that you can follow the pattern and chain of events more easily. What had happened actually was that in the year 2010, the Indian subcontinent had signed a deal to buy 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters in the month of February that year. This was done so that the Communication Squadron of the Indian air force could easily transfer the then President, the then Prime Minister and other Very Important Persons. However, this incident came to light after 3 years in 2013.

The scandal over this contract became highlighted on 12th February in 2013 when the CEO of Finmeccanica was arrested. His name was Giuseppe Orsi. For those who are wondering how the two companies are related, you must know that Finmeccanica is the parent company of AgustaWestland from the end of the Italian authorities.

The very next day, the defense minister of the country at that time, A.K Antony order an investigation into the deal and the matter overall.
AugustaWestland Scam Defense Helicopter Photo
Representing: AugustaWestland Scam

Details of theAgustaWestland chopper scam

Let’s begin with the year 2013 when this matter gained importance and came before the masses of the nation. Early in that year, a national level probe began regarding the deal that had been signed with AgustaWestland. There were reportedly innumerable allegations of corruption against a number of senior officials of the Indian government as well as the AgustaWestland company.

The main point here was a contract between the two regarding the purchase of a fleet of new helicopters for the then President, the then Prime Minister and other Very Important Persons.

Now, you might be wondering why it’s referred to as a chopper scam. Well, the answer to that is the fact that smaller helicopters are referred to as choppers. This is the reason why this matter has also been referred to as the Chopper Scam of India or the Choppergate. 
Central Bureau of Investigation's Sign Board
Investigation by CBI & Other Agencies
Next, the very first question that must come to your mind at this point is that how is there the involvement of corruption if we are simply paying for an item or product and purchasing it legally for the representatives of the country. Well, here’s the catch. It is reported that AgustaWestland did not just land itself the contract due to its excellence in services or precision in design.

Apparently, they had paid a bribe to a number of the Indian politicians and military men so that they get selected for this deal. In fact, the contract they finally sealed was of a massive amount of INR 36 billion (US $ 540 million). This contract stated that the world’s largest democracy, India would be paying the stated amount and purchase 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.

It would also be used to carry state officials who help high positions. Also, if reports and claims of the Italian prosecutors are to be believed, Ahmed Patel was the man who had received advantages due to the deal. Surely, the name rings a bell already. For all those who do not know or are unaware of the political scene of the nation, Ahmed Patel was the political secretary to the President of Congress party, Sonia Gandhi.

Ahmed Patel, M.K Narayan and M. VeerappaMoily to receive bribes

The fact why this can be said with such determination and assertiveness is that a note was presented before the Italian court which had names of people such as the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the then President Pranab Mukherjee, and officials such as Ahmed Patel, M.K Narayan and M. VeerappaMoily to receive bribes. Also, the amount that needs to be paid to them is also stated. While some were to receive €6 million, some others were stated to receive €3 million or €8.4 million. 
Pic of former Indian Defense Minister AK Antony
former Indian Defense Minister AK Antony
On 25th March, 2013, the defense minister of the Indian subcontinent, A.K. Antony, was the one who confirmed before the media and the citizens of the nation that undoubtedly, corruption had taken place when it comes to the AgustaWestland chopper scam. He then went on to emphasise that the people of the country need not panic or get into a state of frenzy because the matter had been handed over to the CBI who were trying their best and leaving no stone unturned to investigate the case. By June, the next year, that is 2014, the government of India had been able to recover approximately half of the money that it had paid to AgustaWestland as part of their deal. 

On 8th April, 2016, the executive of AgustaWestland, Giuseppe Orsi was convicted for paying a bribe of €30 million to politicians, bureaucrats and air force officials of India. This decision was taken by the Milan Court of Appeal. It had in fact overturned a lower court verdict and this judgement came in the form of a declaration that was 225 pages long. Another fact that must be noted is that the sentence was for four years. 
Manmohan Singh & Narendra Modi's pic. Both PMs or Prime Ministers of India
Manmohan Singh & Narendra Modi

In the same year, on 9th December, CBI in India arrested the former chief of the Indian Air Force. His name was S.P Tyagi. In fact, not only him, but also his cousin, Sanjeev Tyagi and his lawyer, GautamKhaitan were taken into custody. The following year, in September 2017, a formal charge sheet was filed against 9 others who had been involved in the case and surfaced during investigation.

Final verdict with regard to AgustaWestland chopper scam

On 16th December, 2016, the Supreme Court of Cassazione asked for a retrial since it wished to dismiss the conviction sentence of 2016’s April. This retrial would however, still be in Milan. 
Finally, in 2018, that is this year, on 8th January, the third Court of Appeals of Milan let go of all the defendants in this case. This means that all the allegations and charges were acquitted the reason behind this was they felt there was lack of sufficient evidence against anyone. This was in effect for the Indian officials as well. 
Christian Michael's Pic who was Extradited to India in AugustaWestland Scam
Extradited Christian Michel

However, later now  Christian Michel has been extradited to India and legal proceedings are going on before India's central elections which many are viewing as act of vendetta by the BJP government against Congress political Party.

See also:

Tags: Indian Scammer Numbers Active 2019, Indian Scam, Indian Scams, Scams in India, Fraud in India, Scam Alert, Latest Scam, Latest Scams, Fraudulent Indians

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