12:00 AM, May 9, 2012
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Indian Defense Minister A K Antony today said that the delivery of AW-101 helicopters for VIP use from AugustaWestland is on schedule. The announcement comes as a surprise since the Minister only last month ordered an inquiry into the alleged ‘malpractices’ involving the deal. While addressing the Indian Parliament, Antony said that the delivery of the helicopters will begin in November 2012 keeping within the original schedule. In 2010, Augusta Westland was awarded a Euro 556 million contract for the supply of 12 AW- 101 helicopters. According to media reports, Italy is investigating the allegations that Augusta Westland reportedly paid a Swiss-based consultant over INR 350 crore (EUR 67 million) to sell the choppers to India. So far, Antony has twice requested a report on the allegations surrounding Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland, with the first request issued in February and the second in April. The Indian Embassy in Rome reported to the MoD that Italian authorities had begun preliminary investigations on allegations of financial malpractices occurring within Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries in general. Recently, the Minister told the Indian Parliament that there would be no probe in Italy regarding the AW-101 deal. The delivery of the helicopter will replace the ageing Mi-8 helicopters of the Air Headquarters Communication Squadron.
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