Ahead of a final decision on cancelling the corruption-tainted VVIP helicopters contract, the Defence Ministry is expected to pose more queries on the deal and hiring of middlemen by Italian major AgustaWestland.
The ministry is slated to do so after considering AgustaWestland’s reply to a notice and a report from the ministry officials and CBI officers, who went to Italy to gather more evidence, officials said here, on Monday.
“We will first consider the report of the ministry’s official and the CBI team, along with the reply filed by the company to the show-cause notice. We will pose further queries on the basis of the findings and material gathered by Indian officials, who visited Italy last week,” a ministry official said here.
AgustaWestland had on Friday replied to the week-long notice issued by the Defence Ministry on February 15 in which it asked why the deal should not be cancelled in view of the revelations in documents filed before an Italian court following a judicial probe there. The Italian probe had led to the then Finmeccanica chief Guiseppe Orsi’s arrest in Milan.
In its reply, the UK-based company, a subsidiary of Italian defence major Finmeccanica, said, “its conduct has been fully compliant with the rules which regulate the AW101 helicopters contract signed with India”.
The `3,546-crore-deal, it said, “was awarded to it following a comprehensive technical and flight evaluation of competing types performed by the IAF in accordance with the (Indian) Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).”
Soon after sending the notice to AgustaWestland, the Defence Ministry also flew out its Joint Secretary (Air) A K Bal along with two CBI officers to Italy on February 19 to gather evidences from the Italian prosecutors.
The team returned to India last week with some documents that it had received from Italian prosecutors and is preparing its report for the Defence Ministry to initiate action based on its findings, officials said.