AgustaWestland deal: CBI to begin probe in graft allegations

Feb 15 2013, 16:12 IST
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SummaryIndia had inked deal to acquire 12 AW-101 helicopters for IAF's elite Communication Squadron.

CBI will soon begin its probe into the alleged payment of Rs 362 crore bribe in India by an Italian aerospace firm to clear a Rs 3,600 crore helicopter deal for ferrying VVIPs.

The agency on Wednesday received a complaint from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe in the alleged kickback given in the procurement of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland, CBI sources said.

A call on whether to conduct a preliminary inquiry or register an FIR would be taken at a high-level meeting scheduled this evening, they said.

Sources said the agency, after initiating probe, would approach the Defence Ministry for providing all the material related to the purchase of helicopters to understand whether any specifications were modified to benefit the company.

The sources said since the complaint was received in the morning, it is still in the scrutiny process.

In February 2010, India had inked the deal to acquire the 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, PM and other VVIPs.

The deal came under the scanner of Italian agencies after allegations of kickback given in India surfaced.

The agencies arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica on Monday as part of their probe related to international corruption.

It is alleged that Orsi, who was CEO of the company when the deal was struck, was involved in the bribery.

Around 50 million euros (Rs 362 crore approximately), about 10 per cent of the deal, were alleged to have been given as bribes to ensure that the company won the contract.

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