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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014

Chopper deal: probe team to leave for Italy tomorrow

PTI  New Delhi, February 17, 2013
First Published: 10:50 IST(17/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:44 IST(18/2/2013)

A joint team of CBI and defence ministry officials will leave for Italy on Monday to verify allegations of kickbacks in the Rs. 3,760 crore VVIP helicopter deal.

Official sources said the departure of the team was delayed by a day due to some last-minute formalities which required to be fulfilled before traveling abroad for the purpose of investigation.

They said the team will try to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case.

The team comprises a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a joint secretary level officer of defence ministry and an official of the external affairs ministry, the sources said.

The decision by the CBI came as it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged kickbacks of Rs. 362 crore in the case, they said.

The CBI was handed over a letter from the defence ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case.

CBI had sought help of Indian Mission in Rome which too has not been able to provide any authenticated court documents to the agency, the sources said.

This was followed by CBI seeking help of Interpol which also expressed inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, they said.

The defence ministry had on Friday sent a team led by joint secretary and an Air Commodore of Indian Air Force, who gave a presentation to the CBI about the tendering procedures and various stages while finalising the helicopter deal with AgustaWestland.

However, when pressed by the CBI officials about the kickback allegations, the team could not provide any answers to the sleuths, the sources said.


'Preparing to clarify points raised by India'

Facing threat of cancellation of its deal to supply 12 AW-101 choppers to India, AgustaWestland on Saturday said it was preparing to clarify the points raised by the Indian government in this regard.

The defence ministry had yesterday issued a show cause notice to AgustWestland of the UK asking why the contract should not be scrapped in view of the recent corruption allegations in the case.

"AgustaWestland clarifies that Indian authorities have not cancelled the contract but have requested some clarifications within seven days. AgustaWestland is preparing its answer to timely meet the Indian authorities' request," the firm said in a release.

India had on Friday stated that the show cause notice was initiation of process to cancel the Rs. 3,760 crore deal with India in which allegedly kickbacks of Rs. 362 crore were paid to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

Talking about the investigations into the case in Italy, the firm said, "AgustaWestland is confident that the full compliance with the law of its conduct and the conduct of its past and present senior executives and managers will be demonstrated soon.

"For 2011, AgustaWestland is a company with approximately four billion Euro annual revenues and with an order book of approximately 12 billion Euro including future deliveries of more than 600 helicopters and 300 helicopter kits.

It said the "success is based on the expertise, skills and dedication of company’s workforce as well as on the breadth of its research capability, manufacturing base, supply chain and, of course, the quality of its products".


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