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CBI team to leave for Italy Monday

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Sun, Feb 17, 2013 12:30 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) A CBI team is expected will leave for Italy Monday to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the $750 mn/Rs.3,600 crore deal for the 12 AgustaWestland 101 choppers, officials said.

Official sources said the team, comprising a senior investigating officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and a law officer, would meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case.

"The team will leave as soon as possible. Hopefully by Monday," an official told IANS.

The defence ministry is also sending a senior joint secretary to Italy "to gather as much evidence as possible" relating to the allegations of corruption in the acquisition of the helicopters for the VVIP use by the Indian Air Force.

The official, A.K. Bal, will leave for Rome Monday.

Sources said that the defence ministry official and the CBI team were likely to travel together to Italy.

They said the CBI team will probe if firms had been floated to route kickbacks in the helicopter deal with AgustaWestland, a Britain-based subsidiary of Italian firm Finmeccanica.

The government has already put on hold the deal and launched the process to cancel it amid allegations that kickbacks of 51 million euro (approx $68 mn) were paid to clinch the deal.

It has also issued a show cause notice to AgustaWestland as to why the contract should not be scrapped in view of the corruption allegations.

An Italian court, hearing the case, has rejected India's request for documents related to the investigations into the matter, maintaining that the "information is covered by secrecy".

AgustaWestland has said it was preparing to clarify the points raised by the Indian government.

The helicopters were for the IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the president, the prime minister and other VVIPs.

The IAF had sought the choppers as a replacement for its ageing Mi-17 cargo helicopters that were modified for VVIP use. Three of the 12 AgustaWestland helicopters have already been supplied.

Italian agencies Tuesday arrested Finmeccanica chief executive officer (CEO) Giuseppe Orsi for alleged corruption to seal the deal.




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