After Express reported on Italy probe in Oct, CVC sought report; he still waits


A day after the defence ministry claimed that it had made all efforts to investigate the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP helicopter deal, it has emerged that the Central Vigilance Commission had asked the ministry for a report last October, and is still waiting for a response.

The information, it is learnt, was sought on the basis of an October 22, 2012 report in The Indian Express about the arrest of Swiss-based middleman Guido Haschke by Italian authorities. The report also had details about the alleged role of a Chandigarh-based company in the scandal and said that the commission money was routed through companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia.

The CVC had taken note of the deal in 2009 as well when a Member of Parliament had written letters raising doubts about the evaluation process. At that time, however, the matter was closed following a "satisfactory explanation" from the Defence ministry.

After the latest round of disclosures this week leading to the government deciding to cancel the contract, the CVC is closely examining how the sensitive CBI probe that has been ordered, should be supervised, sources said.

Meanwhile, former defence secretary Vijay Singh, during whose tenure the deal was firmed up, told The Indian Express that the revelations before the Italian court needed to be taken very seriously.

"This particular issue is very specific. It is based in depositions before a court that have to be taken seriously. No time should be lost to take any action against those named as well as on a decision about the future of this acquisition," Singh said.

About the deal having been concluded during his tenure, Singh said, "We felt that the procedures were above board in every respect but yet this again highlights the dangers posed by middlemen who seek to make a living out of such contracts."

... contd.

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