India is likely to shut the AgustaWestland chopper bribery case due to lack of evidence after recovering INR 2,400 crore (US $377 million) deposited as bank guarantee in Italy and India.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not made any headway in the scam investigation that involves former Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief SP Tyagi, his cousins and former top executives of Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland.
SP Tyagi and his cousins are accused of taking money to swing the deal in favor of AgustaWestland in the INR 3,600 crore (US $566 million) contract for 12 AW-101VVIP helicopters.
Last month, Minister of State for Defense Rao Inderjit Singh had said , “The investigation is in advanced stage and during the probe, the central investigative agency has sent Letters Rogatory to Italy, Tunisia, Mauritius in 2013 and UAE, UK, Switzerland, Singapore and British Virgin Islands in 2014.”
During the course of investigation, one of the accused was arrested, who was later released on bail. Directorate of Enforcement has also issued two provisional attachment orders attaching the properties valued at US $756 thousand approximately out of the proceeds of crime.
The Indian defense ministry had encashed a major chunk of bank guarantees worth over INR 2,400 crore (US $377 million) deposited by AgustaWestland in banks in Italy and India.
An Italian court last year allowed the ministry to encash over INR 1,800 crore (283 million) out of Rs 2,200 crore deposited as bank guarantees in an Italian bank. It had already encashed bank guarantees worth over INR 200 crore (US $31 million) from banks in India.
India was working on procedures to claim more than 650 million Euros (about INR 5,470 crore) from the company in the form of seizure of bank guarantees and imposing penalties.
The Indian defense ministry approved the conversion of six new Mi-17 V5s into VVIP helicopters to replace the old Mi-8 helicopters with IAF's elite Communication Squadron to ferry the President and PM within the country last October.
The move to scrap the case comes even as AgustaWestland is now implicated a Swedish corruption probe. Sweden's anti-corruption authorities said on Friday that they had launched an inquiry into the Swedish Maritime Administration's 2012 purchase of seven rescue helicopters from Italian maker AgustaWestland.