Govt orders fresh probe into graft charges: Chopper deal

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 25, 2012 10:14 hrs

New Delhi: Government on Wednesday ordered a fresh probe into the allegations of malpractices in procurement of 12 helicopters for the VVIP Communication Squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Italian firm Agusta Westland.

"Any such complaint or allegation received will be investigated and the contractual provisions will be invoked, in case any wrong doing is established, in addition to action that may be required under law," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, replying to a question by reporters on the issue outside Parliament House, Antony said he would "seriously" pursue the inquiry into allegations of corruption in the chopper deal.

"I can assure you I will seriously pursue the inquiry," he said, adding that in February also, the Ministry had asked the Indian Embassy in Rome to provide a report on an investigation carried out by Italy on the issue.

"When previously the reports appeared, I had asked the Defence Secretary to immediately inquire into it. He wrote to the Indian Ambassador in Italy and he got the report," Antony said.

According to a media report, Italy is investigating allegations that helicopter manufacturer Augusta Westland paid a commission of over Rs 350 crore to a Switzerland-based consultant for a deal to the sell choppers to India.

The Defence Ministry in its statement said, "There were media reports also in February 2012 about investigations undertaken by Italian authorities into alleged unethical dealings by Finmeccanica Italy (the parent company of Agusta Westland). Following this, information was sought by the Defence Ministry from the Indian Embassy in Rome.

"The Indian Embassy reported that the Italian authorities were conducting preliminary investigations on allegations of financial malpractices occurring within Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries in general," it said.

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