No irregularities in Agusta Chopper deal: Pallam

HYDERABAD:  Denying charges of financial irregularities in the $700-million (about Rs 3,560 cr) deal to acquire 12 helicopters from Anglo-Italian firm Agusta Westland for VVIP movement, m

Published: 20th March 2012 03:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:39 PM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD:  Denying charges of financial irregularities in the $700-million (about Rs 3,560 cr) deal to acquire 12 helicopters from Anglo-Italian firm Agusta Westland for VVIP movement, ministry of defence has clarified that it did not order any probe.

It has also said that it is not having any rethink on country’s largest-ever defence deal worth $10 billion ( Rs 62,000 cr) for purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault of France.  “But if there are objections from any quarter to Rafale deal, the ministry will certainly consider looking into it,”  minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju told Express.

According to reports, two officials in the ministry have questioned the methods adopted to conclude the deal. The contract is yet to be vetted by the ministry of finance and the cabinet committee on security. Dassault pipped the Eurofighter and Boeing and other players from Russia and Sweden at the post to clinch the mega deal.  

The defence ministry is  likely to give a clean chit to the Agusta Westland helicopter deal. “If there are any financial irregularities, as alleged by certain parties, they should have come to light by now. When there are none, why will the ministry order a probe?” Pallam Raju asked.

The ministry’s clean chit to the high-profile deal comes at a time when the Italian prosecutors are investigating allegations of corruption against state-backed defence major Finmeccanica, the parent firm of Agusta Westland.

In February 2010 the defence ministry issued a letter of intent to Agusta Westland to acquire 12 AW 101 VVIP choppers.

 “The final go-ahead is not given. The delay is only procedural and has nothing to do with alleged concerns from other ministries,” Raju explained.

In 2009 the ministry of finance had objected to the high price of the choppers and elimination of the other contender, Sikorsky, which makes S-92 helicopters. While Agusta Westland too signed a pact with the Tata Aerospace for setting up a chopper assembly plant in Hyderabad, it will also cater to other classes of helicopters such as AW 118.

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