Agusta offers to support delivered choppers

Says termination notice does not offer basis for action

Agusta offers to support delivered choppers

Scam-tainted Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland on Friday said it was ready to support three VVIP choppers it delivered to the Indian Air Force before the contentious deal was cancelled on account of corruption allegations.

“AgustaWestland will continue to support the three helicopters already delivered to and currently operated by the Indian Air Force,” the company said in a statement, rejecting the charges of any wrong doing in the Rs 3,727-crore defence deal. The Defence Ministry is yet to decide on what to do with the three choppers being flown by the IAF Communications Squadron at the moment.

India received three AW-101 helicopters to ferry  the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister in December 2012. The second batch of three was set to arrive by June 2012, but the deal was scrapped after reports on the allegation of corruption broke in February 2012.

The company confirms receiving a “termination notice” of the agreement to supply 12 VVIP helicopters, but continues to deny corruption charges.

“AgustaWestland still finds that neither the termination notice by the Ministry of Defence nor the show-cause notice, from which this termination notice stems, offers adequate basis to take any action against the company. It is the Ministry of Defence’s admitted position that the tender process has been duly followed,” it said.

Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday cancelled the Agusta deal citing violation of the pre-contract integrity pact, that seeks to ensure clean defence deals.

On the advice of the Attorney General, the Defence Ministry announced the name of Justice (retired) B P Jeevan Reddy as the arbitrator for the government’s side to look into the arbitration process initiated by the company three months ago. Agusta picked up Justice (retired) B N Srikrishna as the arbitrator for the company side.

“AgustaWestland will soon propose the names of the persons for the purpose of selecting the third arbitrator by agreement of the parties, as requested by the Indian Ministry of Defence,” the firm said.

The company claims it is ready to fulfil the remaining obligations under the agreement for the supply of the 12 VVIP helicopters.

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