'Nobody will be spared if found guilty': Antony on chopper deal

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 05:50 hrs

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged scam in a Rs. 3600 crore defence helicopter deal with an Italian firm, on Wednesday said strongest action will be taken against those found guilty under the integrity clause.

Asserting that the Indian Government will not tolerate any form of corruption, Antony said that he has already ordered a CBI probe into the matter.

"I have already ordered CBI probe into the entire chopper deal. Action will be taken once the CBI probe is over. Nobody will be spared if found guilty," he told media here.

Antony said criminal action and blacklisting of firms would follow post the CBI probe.

"We don't fear how big the companies are," he added.

Antony said the Indian Government in touch with Italian authorities over the matter.

The Defence Minister said two inquiries are being conducted, one in Italy and one in India.

"CBI has been asked to complete the inquiry fast. The decision on remaining chopper deliveries will be taken after the probe report. We will not rush to any conclusion before the inquiry," he said.

Antony further said there has been no information on alleged involvement of former Air Chief S.P. Tyagi's family in the deal.

The arrest of Italian company chief in Milan prompted the government in India to order a CBI probe.

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 Augusta Westland helicopters to India in 2010.

The said contract was signed in February 2010 for the purchase of 12 helicopters. In view of media reports, the Ministry of Defence through the Ministry of External Affairs had sought information from the Governments of Italy and UK. No specific inputs were, however, received substantiating the allegations.

The contract signed with M/s. Augusta Westland includes specific contractual provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence as well as an Integrity Pact.

The first three of the 12 Augusta Westland VVIP choppers have already arrived in India and the rest are expected to be supplied to the Indian Air Force (IAF) by the middle of next year. (ANI)

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