NEW DELHI — Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament on Wednesday that the procurement process was circumvented in the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland UK.
Parrikar was replying during a debate on the alleged corruption charges in the purchase of VVIP helicopters by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2010.
Last month a Milan, Italy, court ruled that the $553 million AgustaWestland contract for buying VVIP helicopters from Italian company Finmeccanica, signed in 2010, involved payoffs to Indian officials.
Parrikar gave a chronology of the procurement process from when the IAF first sought to acquire the VVIP helicopters to replace the aging MI-8 helicopter.
India's Upper House of Parliament hotly debated the VVIP helicopter purchase, some members calling it a "scam." While some members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the former Congress government of changing technical specifications in a bid to favor AgustaWestland's AW-101 helicopter, the Congress Party refuted the charges.
One matter all the parties in the debate agreed to: India's investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), should speed its investigation of the VVIP deal.
India's former Defense Minister A.K. Antony demanded that AgustaWestland and parent company-Finmeccanica should not be allowed to participate in any of the future "Make in India" projects.
India terminated the contract for the 12 VVIP helicopters in January 2014 with AgustaWestland on grounds of a breach of the pre-contract integrity pact.