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India's top investigative agency to question air force ex-chief, others about helicopter deal

India's top investigative agency says it is looking into the role a former air force chief played in a helicopter contract marred by reports of bribery.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said Monday it had ordered an investigation into the role of nine people and two companies on charges that kickbacks were paid to steer the $750 million contract to Italian defense group Finmeccanica's helicopter division, AgustaWestland.

The bureau said it would question former air force chief Shashi Tyagi, his cousins and the CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland for their roles in clinching the purchase of 12 helicopters two years ago.

The agency said it would also investigate the role of three middlemen in channeling illegal payments through Tunisia and Mauritius to two India-based companies, also under investigation.