Our Bureau
06:59 PM, March 21, 2013
AgustaWestland Involved In Another Helicopter Spec Change Controversy

AgustaWestland which is being accused of changing the specs of its AW109 helicopter  to be included in a contract to supply VVIP helicopters in India is being similarly charged in Malta. Its competitor, Eurocopter has charged that AgustaWestland with corruption in a Euro58 million contract for the procurement of up to three helicopters for the Maltese Armed Forces. 

AgustaWestland has filed a judicial protest against competitor Eurocopter which accused the former of corruption. In the protest AgustaWestland denied any irregularities during the process, and claims of unfair disadvantage made by Eurocopter. The unlawful changes pointed out by Eurocopter are said to be "identical" to what has so far been discovered by Italian police a week ago, who arrested Finmeccanica's most senior officials for allegedly bribing Indian officials in a tender for the procurement of military helicopters, according to reports.

In response to Eurocopter's queries about the change in document, the contracts department said that they "knew nothing about it." Meanwhile, Eurocopter added that since August 2011, the AFM were known to be considering a helicopter with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of five tonnes, in order to allow seaborne operations and integration with its marine craft P-61.

Only Eurocopter and Agusta Westland bid for the AFM tender issued last September, 75% of which will be financed by the Europea Union's border control budget.

However, Eurocopter was informed that they were being "administratively disqualified" from the process last month, on the basis that their objection to the changes did not go through the right channels of redress, and that their submission was technically wrong because the financial package was included in two CDs and not in one.

As was the case in India, the anomalies flagged in Malta are related to the alleged tweaking of specifications in the take-off weight of the helicopters, which when compared to Eurocopter, allegedly suit Finmeccanica and its subsidiary supplier Agusta Westland, Malta Today reported. 

According to allegations, middlemen influenced and bribed officials on behalf of Finmeccanica to win the helicopter deal in India. It is also alleged that Italy based company paid commission in terms of several millions of Euros to the middlemen. The two middlemen from their share of commission allegedly paid huge sums of money to several Indian Nationals through Tunisia and Mauritius route in the garb of engineering contracts with two India based companies.