Responding to defence ministry's notice: Finmeccanica

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 17:00 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) Italian aviation giant Finmeccanica, which is facing allegations of paying bribes to bag a $750 million VVIP chopper deal, said Thursday that it was responding to the show cause notice sent by the Indian government to explain the allegations.

The defence ministry had set a seven-day deadline for the company to respond to the allegation. The deadline ends Friday.

According to sources, the ministry would analyse the Rome-based company's response and would also wait for the report of its own senior officer who is in Milan to probe the issue before taking any decision.

Defence ministry joint secretary (Air Acquisitions) A.K Bal, who is in Italy, also met top officials of Finmeccanica and took details about the ongoing investigations against its top bosses.

The company's CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested on allegations of corruptions in the Indian deal on Feb 12.

Defence minister A.K Antony has said severe action will be taken if any trace of corruption was found in the deal.

He said the guilty would not be shown mercy hinting at even canceling the contract.

Not only the VVIP helicopter contract, the Italian company also runs the risk of losing entire defence business in India if it was blacklisted. Industry sources said that it could lose business worth $12 billion from the Indian market alone as it was also in contention for selling helicopters to Indian Navy.

Sources said the government wanted to hear the company's point of view ahead of parliament session, which began Thursday, where the deal will be discussed.

The names of former Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi and his three brothers have emerged in the chopper deal.

Three of the 12 contracted helicopters have arrived and there is uncertainty over the fate of the remaining nine.

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