AgustaWestland deal: CBI rushing a team to Italy to probe alleged kickbacks

Chopper scam

Keen to quickly unravel the mystery on alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal, the CBI is rushing a team of its officials to Italy in a bid to make some headway in its probe.

The decision by the CBI came as it virtually drew a blank from Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs in regard to alleged kickbacks in the case, official sources said on Friday. The team is likely to leave soon.

The CBI was handed over a letter from the Defence Ministry asking for a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some of 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 have not been able to provide any authenticated court documents to the agency, 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, the sources said.

Despite repeated pleas from CBI for some substantiative inputs, Defence Ministry today 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 the AgustaWestland.

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

The Defence Ministry officials were told in no uncertain terms that it was virtually impossible to carry out the probe in the absence of any evidence from them, the sources said.

While the CBI has taken note of the complaint, the agency was to decide whether to file a Preliminary Inquiry, in case further ground work is required, and subsequently register a case or file an FIR directly.

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