Govt repudiates AK Antony’s claim on Agusta Westland

parrikarThe government has replied to some of the criticisms about its handling of Agusta Westland probe, and said that the inquiry is taking time because the key accused are outside the country.

The defence ministry also rejected AK Antony’s statement that it was the Congress government that blacklisted the companies involved in this alleged scandal and that the Modi government has removed the restrictions put by the previous government.

The Indian government had, in early 2014, terminated a 2010 contract with Agusta Westland for the supply of 12 helicopters, alleging the breach of the provisions of an integrity pact.

Antony had said that the companies involved were blacklisted in 2014, something that the Defence ministry today denied.

“The company was not debarred by the said order. Various bonds and bank guarantees were invoked,” it said.

“It is the present Government which through its order dated 03 July 2014, put on hold all procurement and acquisition cases in the pipeline of six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI, namely: Agusta Westland International Ltd., UK, Finmeccanica, Italy and its group of companies, including subsidiaries and affiliates, IDS, Tunisia, Infotech Design System, Mauritius, IDS Infotech Ltd, Mohali and Aeromatrix Info Solution, Chandigarh. No new capital procurement has been made thereafter from these companies in the tenure of the present Government,” it added.

The rest of the statement by the government is as follows:

“A mention has been made regarding clearance of a joint venture involving Agusta Westland by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. This proposal was approved on 2nd September 2011 based on an application by Indian Rotorcraft Ltd, a joint venture of Tata Sons with Agusta Westland NV, Netherlands. This was later changed to Agusta Westland S.p.A, Italy due to re-organisation within the group. On 07 February 2012, an industrial licence for the manufacture of helicopters was granted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. However, the validity of the licence has since expired.

On the core issue of corruption, the two concerned agencies, namely CBI and Enforcement Directorate are vigorously pursuing all aspects of the investigation, including the arrests and or extradition of three foreign nationals, namely, Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James. Red Corner Notices were issued in December 2015 and January 2016 through Interpol under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Prevention of Corruption Act. Extradition request has also been made for Mr. Christian Michel James. One of the agencies (Enforcement Directorate) has arrested an Indian national and attached approximately Rs. 11 crore of property belonging to Indian nationals and to Mr. Christian Michel James.”