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India can cancel not just the VVIP chopper contract with AgustaWestland that is currently under investigation on corruption charges in Italy but also nullify all other contracts with the company and initiate recovery measures if the role of middlemen is proved, Defence Minister A K Antony informed Parliament in a detailed statement laid in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
In a four-page statement on the controversy surrounding the deal that was signed in 2010, the minister said strict anti-corruption measures would be imposed if the use of "undue influence" and employment of "agents and agency commission" are found in the contract.
"Any breach of these provisions entitles the MoD to cancel the contract and all or any other contracts with the company and recover the amount of any loss arising from such cancellations," the statement read. While the matter was marked for a discussion in the Lok Sabha, this did not take place as the House was adjourned.
The detailed statement lists out the unsuccessful efforts carried out by the government over the past few months to obtain information in the Italian probe into the chopper deal that is being carried out by prosecutors in Naples and other cities.
As reported by The Indian Express, a 568-page report filed by the prosecutors in court details an investigation into alleged Italian, Indian and British middlemen who influenced the Rs 3546 crore deal. While a copy of the report is available with this newspaper, Antony has said his ministry has not been able to get any "specific information" on the Italian investigation.
"MoD is constantly pursuing the matter and is committed to take suitable penalty measures in the event of allegations being substantiated. However, in the absence of any specific information in this regard, government has not ordered any formal inquiry into the case so far," Antony said.
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