On a day when Ministry of Defence officials met its representatives to discuss the future of the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, Finmeccanica, the parent company of the scandal-tainted Anglo-Italian helicopter supplier, denied allegations of “violation of the pre-contract integrity pact and the contract.”
Referring to media reports about the possible cancellation of the contract for the supply of 12 VVIP AW 101 helicopters to India, the company in a statement issued from Rome said its subsidiary company, AgustaWestland, received no such communication from the Ministry of Defence.
Incidentally, the Ministry accused AgustaWestland of “violating the integrity pact” and had issued a final “show cause” notice to it in September to which the company has to reply by November 26. For its part, AgustaWestland has initiated legal proceedings on the actions taken by the Defence Ministry.
While three AW 101 helicopters have already been delivered to Indian Air Force under the pact, there is uncertainty over the delivery of the remaining nine.
Finmeccanica said it was “confident in India’s reputation for fair and transparent proceedings and respect for the rule of law for which India has an established reputation.”
It also said that “AgustaWestland will deliver the formal written response to the exceptions raised” by the Ministry of Defence.
The Ministry had frozen the contract for supply of the VVIP choppers after allegations of kickbacks of Rs. 362 crore surfaced in February this year and two senior executives of the company were named as accused.
Show cause notice
The Ministry of Defence had in the same month issued a show cause notice to AgustaWestland, and the company on Wednesday is learnt to have presented its case before the Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary who have been dealing with the matter.
While earlier requests from AgustaWestland for a hearing had been turned down by the Ministry, it relented after Defence Minister A.K. Antony decided to give the company an opportunity.
As part of the probe into corruption by top executives of AgustaWestland and Finmeccania, the trial of former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi is already on in Italy.