Chhattisgarh Agusta deal now in spotlight

Chhattisgarh Agusta deal now in spotlight

$6.57 million paid was above market price

Chhattisgarh Agusta deal now in spotlight

The controversy over AgustaWestland scam has put the focus on Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh with an activists’ group on Thursday questioning the way his government bought a chopper from the company 8 years ago.

The “Swaraj Abhiyan” led by activists Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan also dragged Singh’s son into the controversy, seeking an investigation into whether he has links with 2 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) after the deal was concluded.

The allegations could take the sheen out of the BJP’s campaign against the Congress and its chief Sonia Gandhi. The Congress had last month raised the issue of irregularities in the Chhattisgarh deal.

Yadav and Bhushan claimed that the $6.57 million amount paid for the Agusta chopper was way above the market price for choppers of the same specifications of other companies that ranges between $1.3 million and $ 4 million.

Citing documents obtained through RTI, they said $1.57 million out of the $6.57 million was commission to “Sharp Oceans” that delivered the chopper while Agusta got the rest.

“When there is mention of ‘Signora’ (about Sonia in Italian court judgment), you want an investigation. Rightly so. But this is also a very shady deal. It has to be investigated. There is no investigation as they are from their (BJP) party,” Bhushan told reporters.

Demand for probe

Yadav demanded a probe by a former Supreme Court judge appointed by the Chief Justice of India. “The CBI and ED were Congress’ toys earlier. Now they are BJP’s. We need an independent probe,” he said.

One of the main allegations of the group was that the global tender was called specifying that they were looking for a particular chopper of a particular company.

When the bid was called, the bidders were AgustaWestland, its India service provider OSS Air Management and its dealer Hong Kong-based Sharp Oceans. After AgustaWestland said it could not provide the chopper soon, the bid was given to Sharp Oceans.

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