AK Antony redflags Defence Ministry proposal on Rolls Royce

PTI Posted online: Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Defence Minister AK Antony has red-flagged a proposal of his own Ministry to continue doing business with the UK-based Rolls Royce, which is facing a CBI probe for allegedly paying bribes and engaging middlemen in contracts for supplying engines to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

After the scam broke out early this year, the Defence Ministry had put on hold all dealings with Rolls Royce pending a CBI probe ordered into the allegations against it.

The Defence Ministry wing dealing with the Rolls Royce case is understood to have recommended that the Government should continue doing business with the firm but Antony refused to give a go ahead and asked the officials concerned to take an opinion from the Law Ministry and the Solicitor General before moving any further in the case, Government sources said here.

The Minister had earlier asked the Ministry to take an opinion from the Law Ministry about the actions that could be taken against Rolls Royce.

The UK-based firm has already told the Defence Ministry that it would return Rs 18 crore paid by it as commission to its agents but the Government is yet to take any decision in this regard.

Rolls Royce in a letter written to HAL in December last admitted it had employed a Singapore-based person identified as Ashok Patni and his firm Aashmore Private Limited as "commercial advisor" in India, providing sales and logistical support, local business support and "strategic advice".

The commissions paid by the firm are in violation of the procurement rules in India which prohibit hiring of middlemen or commission agents while transacting deals with the Defence Ministry.

The IAF was of the view that a delay in signing a maintenance contract with Rolls Royce will impact the defence preparedness of the country.

The IAF has to sign a fresh contract with it for maintenance and overhaul of six types of aircraft engines in the AJT Hawk, Jaguar, Avro, Kiran MkII and Sea Harrier military aircraft and Sea King helicopters.