India Lifts Ban on AgustaWestland in Helicopter Bribery Case: Reports

  • Our Bureau
  • 04:40 AM, November 15, 2021
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India Lifts Ban on AgustaWestland in Helicopter Bribery Case: Reports
INS Vela Kalvari-class (Scorpene) submarine @Naval Group

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is lifting a ban on Italian firm AgustaWestland and its parent company Leonardo, imposed in 2014 over allegations of kickbacks in the VVIP chopper scam.

The names of the two Italian companies were missing from a new notification dated 12 November issued by the MoD with a list of firms debarred/put on hold/suspended from doing business with it.

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that Leonardo has given a letter withdrawing its claims on €350 million for the cancelled order of the VVIP choppers.

They added that the lifting of the ban will allow Leonardo to deliver heavyweight torpedoes for the six Scorpene submarines built under Navy’s Project 75. This acquisition got hit as the Italian firm was blacklisted and there was no leeway.

Leonardo will also be able to take part in upcoming Naval tenders for the new radars and turrets for its warships, sources were quoted as saying by the report. They said that multiple extensions of suspension of business dealing with Leonardo were given since 2014 and the last was to expire by this month end.

The ban on companies was imposed when it was found that money was paid to middlemen and Indian officials in 2006 and 2007 to purchase helicopters for high level politicians. As per the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), this amounted to INR 2.5 billion ($33 million), transferred through bank accounts in the UK and UAE. The ban had led to the company’s exclusion from a large number of defence projects where it had products to compete with others including multiple naval helicopters deals.

The company had also gone through a global re-branding exercise and changed its name from the scam-tainted Finmeccanica to Leonardo in 2016.

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