Panaji: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team on Friday quizzed Goa Governor B.V. Wanchoo for three-and-a-half hours in connection with alleged graft in the procurement of AugustaWestland VVIP choppers for 556.262 million euros (Rs.3,726.96 crore).
A team of CBI officials arrived at the Raj Bhavan located near Panaji at 11.30 a.m. and left around 3 p.m. A CBI officer, on condition of anonymity, said Wanchoo's questioning was on the lines of M.K. Narayanan, the national security advisor when the deal was signed and who has now stepped down as the West Bengal governor.
A statement issued here by the state government's information and publicity department said: "The Hon'ble governor was, pleased to give his statement as a witness today (Friday) and hopes that his statement would have clarified any issues that the CBI may have had and hopes that the CBI would conclude their investigation to bring out the truth at the very earliest."
Wanchoo, a former Indian Police Service officer, was the head of the elite Special Protection Group when the deal was signed. According to the CBI, both he and Narayanan were part of meetings which led to the height ceiling of the VVIP choppers being reduced, enabling AugustaWestland, an Italian chopper company, to enter the picture.
Wanchoo is still to complete three years of his five-year term. But the BJP has been stepping up heat on Wanchoo with several senior party leaders, including BJP state vice president Wilfred Mesquita, repeatedly asking him to resign "for his own good".
The CBI had registered a case against the former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, along with 13 others, including his cousins and European middlemen, in the case. The allegation against the former air force chief was that he had reduced the altitude at which the VVIP helicopters could operate so that Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland was included in the bidding process.
The defence ministry had concluded a contract with AgustaWestland in February 2010 for supply of 12 AW-101 helicopters for the IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the president the prime minister and other VVIPs.Three helicopters were received between November 2012 and February 2013.