Govt cautious about Rolls Royce deals

Govt cautious about Rolls Royce deals

Defence Minister A K Antony has asked his officers to seek the opinion of the Union Law Ministry and the Solicitor General before forging any commercial contract with tainted firm Rolls Royce, which admitted to appointing an adviser in a deal with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in violation of Indian defence procurement norms.

After the Rolls Royce-HAL deal came under scanner, Antony, in February, put all “repair and overhaul” contracts with the company on hold, adversely affecting the maintenance of Avro, Jaguar, Hawk, Kiran, Sea Harrier, Sea King and Embraer fleet of the Indian armed forces.

When officials dealing with the Rolls Royce case recommended continuation of the business with the UK-based firm, Antony refused to give the green signal, an agency report quoting unnamed government sources said.

The minister asked the officials to seek the opinion of Law Ministry and Solicitor General before moving any further. Antony had earlier ordered an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into commercial contracts worth approximately Rs 5000 crore inked by HAL and Rolls Royce between 2007 and 2011.

The UK-based firm conveyed to the Defence Ministry that it would return Rs 18 crore it paid as commission to its agents.

In a letter written to HAL in December, 2013, Rolls Royce said it had employed a Singapore-based person, identified as Ashok Patni, and his firm Aashmore Private Limited as “commercial advisor” in India, providing sales and logistical support, local business support and “strategic advice”.

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