Chopper firm seeks timely payment

UK-based AgustaWestland denied corruption charges in the Rs. 3,760–crore VVIP chopper deal and reminded minsitry of defence to clear its dues on time.

In its reply to the defence ministry’s February 15 showcause notice seeking the cancellation of the deal for 12 AW-101 choppers, AgustaWestland said India had not provided any evidence (of bribes being paid) and the notice referred to allegations in general terms.

The helicopter firm is a subsidiary of Italian defence group Finmeccanica.

In the three-page reply dated February 20, the firm’s managing director Raymond Edwards asserted that “adverse media speculations” could not be “proper grounds” for scrapping the February 2010 deal.

Denying “any breach of undertakings under integrity pact,” the firm said it would continue to “perform the contract” to deliver the remaining nine helicopters and “expected to be paid in a timely manner.”

The defence ministry intends to confront AgustaWestland after getting inputs from the CBI, which is probing allegations that middlemen were paid more than Rs. 375 crore in bribes.

The ministry plans to invoke the integrity pact to scrap the deal — a standard clause in all contracts worth more than Rs. 100-crore.


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