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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Chopper firm claims deal is not off yet

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 17, 2013
First Published: 00:01 IST(17/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:03 IST(17/2/2013)

A day after the defence ministry issued a showcause notice to AgustaWestland for cancelling the VVIP chopper deal, the UK-based firm insisted that the Rs. 3,760 crore deal was still on.

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In a statement issued on Saturday, the company said the Indian government had issued the notice "requesting information within seven days." It read that the firm was "preparing its answers" to respond to the defence ministry's "request" within the stipulated time.

The firm's statement came on a day the defence ministry said a joint secretary-rank officer would be travelling to Italy on Monday to gather "as much evidence as possible relating to allegations of corruption" in the deal.

AK Bal, joint secretary (air acquisition), has been assigned the task.

"As for media reports alleging that Indian authorities have cancelled the contract, AgustaWestland clarifies that the ministry of defence has not cancelled the contract but has given notice requesting information," the statement said.

The defence ministry had announced on Friday that it had initiated action for cancellation of the contract, signed in February 2010. But external affairs minister Salman Khurshid told a news channel that the government had not committed to cancelling the deal.

Italian investigators have alleged that Italian defence group Finmeccanica, which owns AgustaWestland, had bribed former air chief SP Tyagi to change the tender requirements.


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