The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not arresting former IAF chief SP Tyagi and his cousins may help the defense argument in the trial against previous Finmeccanica executives Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini in an Italian court.
The CBI has been investigating the alleged payment of bribe in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter purchase case. However, the fact that the Indian agency has not made any arrests so far despite claims of it having proof of the money trail leading up to cousins of the former air chief SP Tyagi may be used by lawyers of Orsi and Spagnolini to defend their clients.
The CBI also recently questioned managers at the Indian branches of Aeromatrix and IDS Infotech, which prosecutors believe acted as intermediaries by issuing false engineering contracts and routing bribes through the Mauritius Islands and Tunisia, according to various reports.
Members of Tyagi’s family, cousins Julie and Docsa Tyagi, were also questioned about their alleged contacts with European middlemen Gerosa and Haschkhe but they have been taken in for further questioning to str trace the money trial.
With the next hearing in the Finmeccanica bribery trial set for next month, the defense is calling on Indian Defense Minister AK Antony, businessman Ratan Tata and former British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon to testify. The move behind the summoning appears to bring the spotlight on India’s defence procurement process in which defence deals are marked by delays and bribery.
Although India has made it clear that Antony will not testify in any foreign court, the Defense Minister was being called to bear witness on his country’s tendering process, while Hoon and Tata are to be admitted as witnesses to provide evidence on the Indian defence industry.
Geoff Hoon is currently Managing Director, International Business at AgustaWestland.
Earlier this year, AgustaWestland and Tata Sons signed an agreement to begin joint production of AW119Ke light helicopter in India. The joint venture firm called Indian Rotorcraft will start with the production of 8-seater AW119Ke light helicopters by mid-2013.
At the time, Ratan Tata, said, a successful partnership with AgustaWestland will go a long way in fostering the growth of the Indian aerospace sector. The production facility will be capable off churning out 30 helicopters per year. The facility will be further developed for producing and catering to other helicopter types like the 16-ton AW101
India has also told the Italian court that its orders are not binding and that it will have the right to exercise all legal options available to it.
Earlier in February, Italian police arrested former Finmeccanica Chairman Giuseppe Orsi and the head of AgustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini as part of a bribery investigation in the 2010 VVIP helicopter sale to India. "These [arrests] decapitate the heads of two companies that are important for the Italian economy," Mr. Orsi's lawyer, Ennio Amodio, said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, adding that his client neither gave nor received money related to the helicopter sale.
Prosecutors are looking to determine if AgustaWestland bribed Indian officials to secure the $751 million contract to sell 12 helicopters to the Indian government.
So far, the trail has revealed that middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa gave AgustaWestland several top-secret documents from the Indian MoD that were seized from the company’s computers hard disk.
The documents seized contained details of bids made by competitors of AgustaWestland and gave information about how ceiling specifications of the helicopters purchased by India were changed from 6,000 metres to 5,000 metres, the Public Prosecutor told the court.
These details were contained in some 70 documents extracted from the hard disk of AgustaWestland helicopters, Prosecutor Eugenio Fosco said.
AgustaWestland, which is accused of paying bribes to secure a contract to sell 12 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force,has put three helicopters in the hanger as the Indian government has not responded to its request for negotiations on further deliveries under the contract.After news of the bribery became known, the Indian MoD ordered a criminal investigation and pur the contract on hold, meaning suspending both payments and accepting further deliveries
Facing the threat of cancellation of its Rs 3,600 crore deal for VVIP choppers, AgustaWestland has asked the Indian Government to release its payments, claiming the breach of contract. In a letter written to the ministries of Defence, Finance and External Affairs, the Anglo-Italian firm has said that there were certain 'contractual difficulties' with the Defence Ministry and asked for its payments to be released
AgustaWestland has sought release of payment from the Indian MoD on grounds that it is performing its part of the contract in the supply of 12 VVIP helicopters to India. In separate communications to the Indian MoD and the External Affairs ministry, the company has invoked the performance clause in the contract
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
Helicopter procurement programs worth billions of dollars could be delayed or altogether cancelled in India following the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper bribery scandal which is being investigated in Italy and India. India has already put further payments and delivery of the AW101 helicopters on hold till the pendency of an investigation by its Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has found grounds to charge the former chief of the Indian Air Force, S
Deals between India and AgustaWestland seem jinxed taking into account that this is the second time in two decades that a helicopter deal between the two has been dogged by scandals. In 1986, the Indian government under then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi agreed to purchase 21 Westland helicopters for the Indian Navy despite staunch opposition from experts who didnt want the helicopters in the fleet
The Indian Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said that all new deals with Finmeccanica, parent company of AgustaWestland, will be put on hold until further notice. "An internal circular/advisory has been issued to not further process any acquisition project in which Finmeccanica is in the fray as a vendor till we get the attorney general's opinion on the entire blacklisting issue in the VVIP helicopter case (the 556 million Euro contract was scrapped on January 1)," an MOD official was quoted as saying by The Times of India newspaper
Indias decision to cut ties with Finmeccanica, parent company of AgustaWestland looks like it will suck in other European companies as well. The Indian MoD is reported to be looking at linkages between Finmeccanica and other European defense companies which may have a bearing on current procurements in India
As the possibility of blacklisting by the Indian government looms over AgustaWestland following the termination of the VVIP helicopter deal, its participation in various other military tenders worth an estimated $3.5 billion also hang in the balance
Referring to press reports related to the possible cancellation of the contract for the supply of 12 VVIP AW101 helicopters to India, Finmeccanica confirms that its subsidiary company, AgustaWestland, has received no such communication from Indias MOD. Finmeccanica is confident in India's reputation for fair and transparent proceedings and respect for the rule of law, for which India has an established reputation
AgustaWestland took home contracts worth over €1.44 billion in the last few months, the company said in a statement
AgustaWestland (AW) which is facing bribery charges in the sale of 12 VVIP AW101 helicopters to the Indian Air Force has contested a report of Indias Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) “in the interest of accuracy of balance”. In a communication to the CAG last week, AW has said that it would have been able to demonstrate flight operations at a height of 6,000 meters rather than 4,500 meters as was mandated in the 2006 RFP
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