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No Charges Yet as Corruption Probe Continues in Indian Helo Deal

Dec. 12, 2013 - 12:07PM   |  
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI   |   Comments
Six companies are under investigation by the Indian government's anti-fraud agency for allegations of corruption connected to the VVIP helicopter contract signed in 2010 with Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland. No charges have been filed yet.
Six companies are under investigation by the Indian government's anti-fraud agency for allegations of corruption connected to the VVIP helicopter contract signed in 2010 with Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland. No charges have been filed yet. (AgustaWestland)
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NEW DELHI — India’s anti-fraud agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has not yet filed formal charges against any individual or company in connection with the $720 million tender for sale of 12 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force from Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland, the Ministry of Defence here said.

In an official Indian MoD release issued Dec. 11, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said that the CBI “registered a case, No. RC2172013A0003, on 12.3.2013 against the following six firms: Finmeccanica, Italy; AgustaWestland, U.K.; IDS, Tunisia; InfoTech Design System (IDS), Mauritius; India’s InfoTech Ltd., Chandigarh; and Aero Matrix InfoTech Solution. ... No charge-sheet has been filed by CBI so far as the investigation is still in progress.”

An MoD source said a decision on whether to cancel the contract or blacklist AgustaWestland has not been taken yet.

AgustaWestland is facing charges of using corrupt practices to win the VVIP helicopter contract, signed in 2010. The Indian government earlier this year halted the deal to buy 12 AW101s after Giuseppe Orsi — then CEO of AgustaWestland’s parent company, Finmeccanica — was arrested in Italy and charged with paying bribes to secure the Indian deal during his tenure as CEO of AgustaWestland. New Delhi stopped payments on the contract and referred the matter to the CCBI. The corruption charges are under investigation separately in Italy and India.

AgustaWestland has already replied to a show cause notice from the MoD.

According to the MoD, the contract with AgustaWestland includes specific provisions against bribery and the use of undue influence, and spells out the articles that can be invoked if wrongdoing is detected.

In addition, AgustaWestland signed an integrity pact that is effective for five years from the date of signing, or until the contract is executed, whichever is later. The penalties include forfeiture of the earnest money, performance bond, cancellation of the contract without compensation, recovery of all the sums already paid by India with interest, cancellation of any other contracts with the bidder and debarment of the bidder from entering into any bid from the Indian government for at least five years — a period that could be extended.

AgustaWestland has appointed a former Indian supreme court judge to represent the company in arbitration proceedings.

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