AgustaWestland helicopter deal: CBI seeks details of MoD inquiry

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday wrote to the Ministry of Defence, seeking details of an internal inquiry the ministry conducted last year in connection with the helicopter deal scandal. The agency also asked the ministry to appoint a nodal officer from the IAF to help it in the preliminary probe.

A 10-member CBI team formed to investigate the case is also likely to register a case into the multi-crore scam soon, said officials.

Sources said top CBI officials will also meet the Director General of Defence (acquisition) Dr S B Agnihotri on Thursday to understand the process involved in procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from AugustaWestland.

On Tuesday, the defence ministry referred the case to CBI after Italian authorities arrested Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi.

In its brief 'terms of reference' to the CBI, the ministry provided reports of The Indian Express on the chopper deal starting from February last year.

"We have sought more details from the MoD and our officers also in touch with the Indian mission in Italy. The officers will also seek the help from the Interpol to get details of the case and documents which have been examined by the Italian authorities," said a top CBI official.

On Wednesday, the CBI also asked the defence ministry to provide the files relating to the procurement of the VVIP helicopter since its inception.

A presentation on VVIP chopper deal by the ministry is also likely to be finalised by Friday. "The detailed presentation to be given by IAF will help the probe officers to understand the nitty-gritty of the entire scam," said a CBI official.

The agency is trying to get the report filed by Public Prosecutor Eugenio Fusco on the basis of which Orsi was arrested as it may help it in zeroing in on the Indians who could have been beneficiaries of the bribes. The Enforcement Directorate has also started a fresh probe and will take action against the firm under stringent money laundering sections.

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