Govt owes an explanation: BJP on chopper deal scam

BJP today said it has been raising the financial irregularities in the VVIP helicopter deal with an Italian company for the past one year and insisted that the Congress-led UPA government give an explanation about the reported anomalies.

"Action has been taken in Italy on the VVIP helicopter scam. The CEO of the company has been arrested. But no action has been taken here. The country which would have benefited from the deal has taken action while the country which lost money has not done anything," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

Minutes after this reaction, the government ordered a CBI inquiry into the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from Finmeccanica, the Italian parent company of Augusta Westland, UK.

Javadekar maintained that the government owes an explanation on the matter.
He had raised a question in the Rajya Sabha to which the government gave a reply on December 12, 2012.

In the reply, Defence Minister A K Antony had acknowledged that it has come to the notice of Ministry of Defence through several reports that Italian prosecutors had begun a probe into alleged unethical dealings by M/s Finmeccanica. He had then informed the House that the probe into the matter has been widened to include the ibid contract.

Antony had further said that upon his ministries request, the External Affairs Ministry has taken up the matter with the Italian and UK governments to get further details.

"However, in the absence of any specific information, government has not started any formal probe in this regard by Indian agencies," Antony had said.

Not satisfied with this reply, Javadekar wrote a letter to Antony on December 14, 2012 stating that there are several indicative evidences of payment of kickbacks and the suspected graft should be probed.

Javadekar said Italian investigators are probing allegations that Augusta Westland paid a commission of Euro 51 million to Switzerland-based consultant Guido Ralph Haschke to facilitate the deal in India.

Finmeccanica's head Giuseppe Orsi was arrested yesterday.

The Rs 3,546-crore contract for 12 Augusta Westland helicopters with the company was concluded in February 2010.

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