Chopper deal: MoD sending Joint Secretary to Italy to gather evidence of bribery

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 16, 2013 10:30 hrs

The Ministry of Defence on Saturday directed a senior-level official to travel to Italy to gather as much evidence as possible relating to the allegations of corruption in the acquisition of 12 AW 101 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force.

Joint Secretary A.K. Bal will be leaving for Rome as early as on Monday. The Defence Ministry has also directed the CBI to probe the matter and two officials from the CBI will also be visiting Italy.

The Ministry of Defence has initiated action for the cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs.

The MoD yesterday issued a formal show cause notice to the AgustaWestland of UK seeking cancellation of contract and taking other actions as per the terms of the contract and the Integrity Pact.

The MoD had already put on hold further payments to the company on Wednesday.

With the show cause notice, the operation of the contract has been put on hold.

The company has been asked to reply to the notice in seven days.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony had earlier on Wednesday said that strong action will be taken against those found guilty.

"Nobody will be spared whatever may be the consequences," he said.

The name of former Air Chief S P Tyagi has reportedly figured in the alleged scam, but he has stoutly refuted the bribery charge against him.

The copter scam has unfolded with the arrest of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company.

Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, who was arrested on Tuesday in Rome, had been under investigation for months and had denied any wrongdoing in the deal for the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010.

AgustaWestland, the Italian firm is presently at the centre of a controversy over allegations of paying kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal. (ANI)

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