Chopper deal: Def Min to consider reports of Joint Secy, CBI team

AgustaWestland

The Defence Ministry will consider the reports of its Joint Secretary and the CBI team which had gone to Italy to probe charges of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal before taking a final decision on scrapping the contract with Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

The Ministry is also reviewing the reply to its showcause notice by AgustaWestland which has denied paying any bribes to bag the contract.

The report filed by Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Air) Arun Kumar Bal and the CBI team and the evidences provided by them would be considered before taking any decision on the deal, sources said here.

The Defence Ministry will look at the legal aspect of the deal and developments in the matter before taking any decision towards cancelling the deal, they said.

The Ministry had issued a showcause notice to AgustaWestland on February 15 after the arrest of Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini by Italian investigators in connection with the alleged bribery scandal.

In its reply to the showcause notice, the firm has also offered to share details of its transactions and promised full cooperation in any kind of probe.

"We have responded to the showcause issued to us by the Indian government within the specified timeframe. We have told the Indian Defence Ministry that our conduct has met the legal requirements in India and there was no wrongdoing involved in it," an AgustaWestland spokesperson had said.

Initiating the process of cancellation of the deal, the Ministry had asked the defence firm why the contract should not be cancelled in view of the corruption charges against it.

Under the deal, which was signed in February 2010, three choppers have already arrived in the country at the Hindan air base near here.

The Defence Ministry has stopped making future payments to the company besides putting on hold the delivery of the remaining nine choppers.

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