Envoy asks Italy for probe details

FP

The ambassador in Rome, Debabrata Saha, has reportedly requested Italy for information on the "Indian middlemen", including a serving army brigadier, in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.

"The Ministry of Defence has requested the External Affairs Ministry to obtain information on the ongoing probe in Italy. We intend to take it up in Italy through our ambassador and we intend to take it up in Delhi," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Tuesday. "The Ministry of Defence would like to know the dealings with India and the possibility of Indians being involved. Our need for information is limited to what is related to India."

India's request though is not expected to yield results any time soon given that the Italian government does not have control over the probe — being conducted by the prosecution branch of the judicial system — and so no access to the information unearthed. It is learnt that Saha would also directly approach the prosecution branch, but it is unlikely they would share the details with a foreign nation.

AgustaWestland, the other source of information, being a private firm, can't be forced to part with details. And even if it does provide such information, it can't be relied on completely, anyway.

So, it seems, New Delhi will have to wait for the judicial process to take its course and for the Italian courts and prosecutors to make the documents public.

The court documents, as reported by The Indian Express, say investigators are looking into allegations that middlemen were paid Euro 51 million illegal commission to fix the Rs 3,546 crore contract. A letter seized from an alleged middleman, Swiss consultant Guido Haschke, claims that an army brigadier demanded $5 million to swing the deal.

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