AgustaWestland offshoot: CBI closes corruption case against ex-Brigadier

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Seven years after recording a FIR against a retired brigadier for falsifying helicopter field test records as an offshoot of AgustaWestland VVIP Helicopter Corruption Case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a closure report because it found no concrete evidence against him, agency officials said.

The case was filed in 2014 after the CBI received a new installment of documents from Italy, where a note mentioned that Brig VS Saini allegedly asked for 5 million euros to help Agusta. Saini was accused of rigging the test flight records of reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters that the government wanted to procure.

Besides Saini, the FIR also mentioned unidentified officers from the army, the Ministry of Defense 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 that Brig Saini was part of the team testing competing helicopters in the light utility helicopter category.

Army Aviation was planning to purchase 197 light helicopters to replace its aging Cheetah and Chetak fleet, which undertakes reconnaissance and casualty evacuation operations in forward locations and high-altitude areas such as Siachen, Ladakh, northern Kashmir and the northeast.

The procurement process for 197 helicopters was canceled in December 2007 after the deal was finalized. Italian prosecutors found mention of Brig Saini in documents seized during their investigation into the VVIP chopper scam.

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