AgustaWestland remains a bidder for Indian deal

May 10, 2013 at 12:02 AM
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BANGALORE, India, May 10 (UPI) -- AgustaWestland's bids for utility helicopters for India's navy and coast guard will remain, despite the company being investigated over bribery allegations in another contract.

The government has no plans to bar AgustaWestland from bidding for further aviation contracts even though the company is under scrutiny in Italy and India over another signed deal for light helicopters for VIP transport.

However, India recently put on hold the AgustaWestland VIP contract because of the bribery allegations.

The Anglo-Italian aerospace company is being investigated by India's Central Bureau of Investigation, a notice on the Defense Ministry website said.

Defense Minister A.K. Antony also made the comments in a written reply to a question by Shri AlokTiwari, a member of the Indian Parliament's upper house Rajya Sabha.

AgustaWestland continues to be embroiled in legal actions over the $733 million deal for 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters signed in February 2010 for the 12 VIP helicopters.

"Determination of contractual violation and criminal liability, if any, is under examination and investigation," the notice on the Defense Ministry website said.

"On conclusion of the preliminary enquiry, the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against 19 persons, including six companies."

Allegations include "criminal conspiracy, abuse of official position, offering illegal gratification and acceptance of illegal gratification by concerned persons/middlemen," the Ministry of Defense notice said.

"Decision for canceling the (VIP) contract will depend on the outcome of the CBI investigation."

Earlier this month, media reports said the AgustaWestland trial in Italy will start June 19.

On trial in Italy will be former Chief Executive Officer Giuseppe Orsi of the Italian state-controlled defense giant Finmeccanica and CEO Bruno Spagnoli of Finmeccanica's United Kingdom helicopter unit AgustaWestland. Allegations include kickbacks in the 12 VIP helicopter deal with India, a report by the Indian newspaper dna said.

Orsi -- at the helm of AgustaWestland when the 12-chopper contract was signed -- and Spagnoli are suspected of corruption in relation to bribes allegedly paid to secure the helicopter deal, the dna report said.

Antony also said the CBI is preparing letters of rogatory -- a communication in writing sent by a court to a foreign court requesting testimony of a witness in its jurisdiction be formally taken and transmitted to the letter-issuing court.

Antony said he had sent a team of defense ministry and ministry of external affairs people to Italy regarding the CBI investigation.

Three of the 12 AgustaWestland AW-101 helicopters had been delivered when the government put a hold on the contract pending the outcome of the CBI investigation.

Nonetheless, AgustaWestland remains in the running for the $200 million coast guard deal for 16 light ship-launched helicopters.

The tender went out in late 2011, a report by The Hindu newspaper said at the time. Requests for proposal also were sent to Sikorsky and Eurocopter.

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