The Italian probe allegedly revealed a crucial role played by Carlo Gerosa, third alleged middleman and partner of Guido Haschke

by Raghav Ohri

NEW DELHI: Much before middlemen in the VVIP helicopter deal allegedly made “arrangements” to swing the deal in favour of M/s AgustaWestland, they were in active business with one of the Tyagi brothers, alleged an investigation done by Italian sleuths.

“Business relations” between Julie Tyagi, cousin of the then Indian Air Force (IAF) chief SP Tyagi, and the middlemen ranged from oil and gas to railways, it claimed, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Italian authorities have shared a number of documents related to the investigation with the Indian government, they said. The Italian probe allegedly revealed a crucial role played by Carlo Gerosa, third alleged middleman and partner of Guido Haschke. Interception of conversations between Gerosa and Julie Tyagi, seized documents and Haschke’s questioning by Italian investigators allegedly revealed Gerosa had introduced Haschke to Julie Tyagi. Both Julie and SP Tyagi are accused in the AgustaWestland deal. Gerosa’s was a “friendship that became a business contact with this Indian family of businessmen,” as alleged by Haschke in his statement to Italian investigators.

Intercepted conversations of Gerosa and Julie Tyagi indicate the duo explicitly referred each to other as “brothers.” One of the interceptions showed that business relations between the two were “very close and took place in many sectors, ranging from oil and gas to railways,” the probe alleged.

While Haschke and Gerosa were appointed by AgustaWestland to “manage” the Tyagi brothers, Christian Michel, another middleman, was allegedly given mandate to “execute the contract”, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Michel is currently being grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Among other evidence, he is being cornered on the claims and confessional statement made by Haschke, they said.

“Documentary evidence” of business relations between Haschke and the Tyagi brothers starting in 2004 has been gathered. As per the investigation, Haschke was already operating in India, facilitating activities of Ansaldo Energia, an Italian energy company of the Finmeccanica group, it said.

According to the Italian investigation, on February 22, 2004, Haschke allegedly sent a message to the then joint secretary, coal, requesting an appointment to discuss the Neyveli project along with his partners Carlo Gerosa and Malverino Porfido, then manager of Ansaldo, according to sources.

On March 25, 2004, the manager allegedly sent a fax to Haschke attaching a message to another Indian company with an annotation written in pen by him, “Guido, letter sent to... can you give it to Julie for his info and support? Thanks.”

Subsequently, the letter was forwarded by Haschke to Julie Tyagi on March 30, 2004, it said.

As per the Italian investigators, the “business correspondence(s)” proves the “supporting” activity that Haschke carried out in India in collaboration with the Tyagis, people with direct knowledge of the matter said. The Italian sleuths and prosecutor have claimed that such consultancy and supporting activity point to a “formal cover for effective corrupt practices subject to criminal sanctions”. Describing oil and gas and coal as “delicate and risky sectors,” they argued that the risk is even greater in the defence sector.