India asked Italy for payoff details 8 months ago, but was stonewalled

It was eight months ago that the Ministry of Defence first tried to obtain confirmation of allegations of payoffs in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal but the repeated response from the Italian government was the same: that they had "no official position in this regard in view of the independence of the judiciary".

MoD officials said though there has been a series of official correspondence between them, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian mission in Rome on the allegations that middlemen were allegedly paid Euro 51 million to swing the contract, no evidence or court papers have yet been made available to them.

The MoD had even directly corresponded with the Italian prosecutors in Naples but received no feedback on the allegations of payoffs or the role of Indian middlemen.

Following a series of reports in The Indian Express, detailing the role of Indian middlemen and publication of transcripts of conversations between the players involved, Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma on

October 25 again wrote to the External Affairs Ministry, stating that it would now be "worthwhile'' to "unearth the truth" and seek details on reports of commissions being paid for the Rs 3,546 crore contract.

The MEA has since reported that the Indian request has been forwarded yet again to the Italian government.

The Defence Secretary's latest letter lists all the unsuccessful attempts made through diplomatic channels to obtain official confirmation or court documentation on the bribery case and states that the response from the Italian government has been that the judiciary and prosecutors in Italy were "not accountable" to the government.

It also mentions the fact that the Indian side has been in correspondence and contact with Rome on the subject since February 2012, when reports of payoffs in the helicopter deal first surfaced.

... contd.

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