Middleman-Agusta pact under CBI lens for violation of tender

  • Abhishek Sharan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 09, 2016 00:29 IST
A placard bearing an image of an AgustaWestland chopper lies on the Parliament lawn after a protest over the scam. (PTI File Photo)

The CBI’s probe into the VVIP AgustaWestland (AW) deal has brought under its scanner one of the three pacts that the choppers’ UK-based maker allegedly concluded with a middleman in violation of the tender’s no-broker condition.

The firm, AW Limited, clinched the Indian contract to sell 12 VVIP AW-101 choppers in February 2010 for Rs 3,727 crore, after having agreed to not deploy any middleman as per the pre-contract integrity pact. AW Limited concluded three contracts with its European middleman, Guido Haschke, from 2005-07, with one of

them being allegedly linked to the 2010 deal, according to a CBI source.

“The first two contracts between AW Limited and Haschke’s Tunisia-based Gordian Services, Sarl, involved paying him for services

rendered towards scouting opportunities for the sale of civilian choppers in India,” the source said.

“The third contract, however, was linked to Haschke helping the firm bag the military VVIP choppers’ contract by June 30, 2008,” the source further said.

After the conclusion of flight evaluation trials conducted abroad in January-February 2008 on AW Limited’s AW-101 chopper and an American

chopper, the air force in April 2008 had recommended the former’s suitability.

The contents of the alleged third contract will strengthen CBI’s bribery charges against the UK–based firm and its European and Indian middlemen, according to the source. CBI sought copies of the pacts from Italy via judicial and diplomatic channels along with other case documents. India cancelled the 2010 AW contract in 2014.

The CBI is probing allegations that Finmeccanica and AW spent `360 crore to bribe influential people in India to manipulate specifications related to the chopper’s optimum flying capability to bag the contract.

Haschke allegedly admitted to Italy’s Milan Appeals’ Court — the equivalent of an Indian high court — that his firm’s third pact with AW Limited was connected to the firm bagging the 2010 contract.

Asked about the third contract, Haschke told the court, “The fact that this could be a fee for advice for that specific job and that this advice was not accepted by the tender documents, this is correct.” 

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