Italy Investigates Pay-offs In Indian VVIP Copter Deal

Photo / AgustaWestland (via Prasun K Sengupta)
Two months after it emerged that India's VVIP helicopter deal with AgustaWestland was being investigated for possible kick-backs -- and a month after the Indian defence minister clarified to Parliament that there was no specific probe into India-related transactions, the Italian press now reports that Italy is indeed investigating the possibility that AgustaWestland paid 51-million in kickbacks to swing the $700-million Indian deal in 2010 for 12 AW-101 executive transport helicopters. The helicopters, incidentally, begin delivery in October this year.

Finmeccannica yesterday issued this detailed statement in response to the press reports:

AgustaWestland has not committed any form of irregularity, nor has any type of commission been paid to any type of broker, either during the (military) tender for supply of AW101 helicopters to the Defence Ministry, or during the (civilian) tender for possible supply of helicopters to the police forces.• AgustaWestland has thus complied in full with the laws of India which prohibit the use of brokers for military supplies. A recent investigation by the Defence Ministry ascertained this, and confirmed that the tender for AW101 helicopters was absolutely regular.• On the contrary, Indian Law does not preclude the use of brokers for civil supplies. However, this contract has never taken concrete form, because the tender never took place. AgustaWestland as a result has neither sold any helicopters to the police forces, nor paid any type of commission.• The agency contract relating to the possible sale of helicopters to the police forces was drawn up in full compliance with Italian, Indian and international laws. Contracts of this type represent a standard and common practice at international level, and in this type of business.• There is no connection - either direct or indirect - between the programme relating to the AW101 helicopters for the Indian Air Force and that of the police force: the reference sectors are different, the stakeholders are different, the procedures are different, and the products are different.

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