'Chopper Scamsters Won't Go Unpunished'

Defence Ministry contradicts Congress claims, says it was NDA that blacklisted AgustaWestland and not UPA.

Published: 29th April 2016 06:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th April 2016 06:30 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The Manohar Parrikar-led Ministry of Defence on Thursday said it would leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrongdoers involved in the VVIP chopper scam.

Contradicting Congress claims that the Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland had been blacklisted by the UPA government, the ministry said it was the NDA, on July 3, 2014, that had actually put on hold all procurement and acquisitions in the pipeline from the six companies involved in the scam.

The ministry also said the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate were vigorously pursuing all aspects of the investigation, including the arrest and extradition of the three middlemen in the deal — Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James.

“Publicly available information on the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters clearly shows that the core issue in the matter is corruption. The present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrongdoers in this case,” a ministry statement said.

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It said the long time taken was largely because some of the key perpetrators of this “misdeed” were outside the country. In certain quarters, questions had been raised on certain trivial technicalities, which appeared to be intended to distract attention from the core issue of corruption, the statement said.

The ministry said the contract for supplying 12 helicopters,  signed with AgustaWestland International Ltd (AWIL) on February 8, 2010, had been terminated with effect from January 1, 2014.

“The main reason was the breach of the provisions of the Pre-Contract Integrity Pact and breach of terms of contract by AWIL. However, the company was not debarred by the said order. Various bonds and bank guarantees were invoked... It is the present government which through its order dated July 3, 2014, put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases in the pipeline of six companies figuring in the First Information Report registered by the CBI. No new capital procurement has been made thereafter from these companies in the tenure of the present government,” the statement said.

On the Congress allegation that the NDA had given clearance to a joint venture involving AgustaWestland through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, the ministry said the proposal had been approved on September 2, 2011 based on an application from Indian Rotorcraft Ltd, a joint venture of Tata Sons with AgustaWestland NV, the Netherlands.

SC to hear pil on fir against Sonia, others

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would next week hear a PIL plea seeking the registration of an FIR against political leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in the chopper scam case. A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit ordered listing of the PIL when advocate M L Sharma said it was is an urgent matter that should be heard at the earliest. The CBI in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by AgustaWestland to Indian officials.

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