New Delhi, March 19: The defence ministry under A.K. Antony is walking a tightrope on cancelling the Rs 3,550-crore contract for VVIP helicopters after the company that sold them replied for the second time today that it had not bribed officials, violated law or an integrity pact.
The Indian Air Force had contracted 12AW101 VVIP “Skyfall” helicopters on the advice of the Special Protection Group (SPG) under the Prime Minister’s Office. A decision on the fate of the contract will be shaped by Antony after discussions with the PMO and the Union home ministry.
Antony ordered a CBI probe after allegations that the company had used middlemen to bribe Indian officials and swing the deal. AgustaWestland, the UK subsidiary of Italian firm Finmeccanica, replied to clarifications sought by the defence ministry with boxloads of documents that detail its contracts with suspected middlemen in the deal.
These include a chronological list of its deals with Guido Haschke, Carlo Geraso and Christian Michel — whose names have figured in investigations in Italy. Guido Haschke was allegedly in touch with the cousins of former Air Chief Marshal S.K. Tyagi.
AgustaWestland has also sent copies of contracts with the three men who the CBI has named as being conduits for funds channelled to companies to which Tyagi’s cousins are linked.
AgustaWestland has sent the documents after the defence ministry asked for the copies of the contracts and the order of custody in jail of Bruno Spagnolini and Giuseppe Orsi, former chiefs of AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica who were arrested on the orders of an Italian court.
In a reply to a show-cause notice, AgustaWestland said the inquiries in Italy were at a “pre-trial” stage and that no charges have been proven against Orsi and Spagnolini.
“We as the buyer will need to satisfy ourselves that neither your company, nor its holding/parent company… or any foreign or Indian individual or entity, acting on your behalf, have committed any act in breach of the terms and conditions of the main contract or the pre-contract integrity pact,” the defence ministry had written.