Free Press Journal

Jaitley to review AgustaWestland chopper scam case


Agusta Westland Choper Deal

New Delhi: Defence Minister Arun Jaitley will review the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal with the ministry preparing a presentation for him on the procurement which was scrapped after allegations of bribery and payment of kickbacks.

The Directorate General of Acquisition will soon make a detailed briefing before the Defence Minister on the case where 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers were being procured for the IAF, Defence Ministry officials said here today.

The briefing, which is likely to take place this week, will also include details about the ongoing arbitration and investigations going on in both India and Italy in the case, they said.

The ministry will also provide details of the measures taken by the ministry to recover the bank guarantees and the stand taken by it during the future legal proceedings in Italian courts.

The ministry has encashed a major chunk of bank guarantees worth over Rs 2,400 crore deposited by AgustaWestland in banks in Italy and India.

The ministry recently received a big boost when an Italian court allowed it to encash over Rs 1,800 crore out of Rs 2,200 crore deposited as bank guarantees in an Italian bank. It had already encashed bank guarantees worth over Rs 200 crore from banks in India.

India has been working on procedures to claim more than 650 million Euros (about Rs 5,470 crore) from the company in the form of seizure of bank guarantees and imposing penalties.

India scrapped the contract on January 1 over allegations of bribery and payment of kickbacks in the contract worth Rs 3,600 crore for supplying 12 AW-101 choppers.

The Defence Ministry had also initiated the process to blacklist the firm but the Solicitor General advised it to “wait” before taking any action in this regard in view of the ongoing probes in the case in both India and Italy.