Pushed to the wall by the Italian government’s probe into the alleged payment of bribes to Indians for the Rs 3,750 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, the ministry of defence (MoD) has instituted an internal inquiry even as it gets ready to cancel the deal. According to sources in the MoD, they have also found prima facie evidence that the specifications for the tender were tweaked to favour AgustaWestland.
The CBI will send its team to Italy next week to investigate the scam.
The process of cancellation of the contract with Italian firm Finnmeccanica was initiated on Friday afternoon. Sources told DNA that during the internal probe, names of two senior IAF officers and an Army Brigadier has emerged as the people who changed the technical specifications to favour the Italian major.
“During the probe, the names of two high ranked officers of the Air headquarters in New Delhi and an army officer has come out, as they were part of the committee to change parameters of technical specifications,” a senior MoD official told DNA. But despite indications, the MoD could not take any administrative action against these officers, as the government is awaiting a reply from their Italian counterparts.
“The MoD today issued a formal show cause notice to the AgustaWestland of the UK seeking cancellation of contract and taking other actions according to the terms of the contract and the Integrity Pact,” MoD spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.
“With today’s show cause notice, the operation of the contract has been put on hold,” Kar added.
According to defence ministry officials, the government will also go for blacklisting the firm. Blacklisting of Finnmeccanica will lead to affect its military business of worth $8 billion (Rs, 44,000 crore) with India. After cancellation of the VIP chopper deal, the three AW 101 that have been delivered will be returned and the paid money will be forfeited.
By Pradiprsagar (DNA)