Taking note of media reports on the ongoing Italian investigations into AgustaWestland deals with countries that include India, the Indian MoD has initated an inquiry to gather information from the Italian government. The MoD's full statement and the media reports are linked below:
"In response to media reports [mine on Headlines Today and Manu Pubby's in The Indian Express] alleging irregularities in the contract for 12 helicopters from AugustaWestland for VVIP use, the Ministry of Defence has once again taken up the matter with the Italian government through the Ministry of External Affairs and has asked for an early response on the issue. The Italian government has been requested to provide details of the existence, if any, of any middlemen or any individual or Indian entity in the above mentioned contract.
The MoD has asked the Italian government and concerned agencies there through MEA to provide the name and relevant documents relating to the alleged involvement of a Brigadier in the ongoing process for the acquisition of 197 Light Utility Helicopters for the Indian Army [note: it's actually 133 for the Army and 64 for the IAF]. MoD will take strong action against the offenders detected through this probe."
[Update at 7.51PM] AgustaWestland statement:
AgustaWestland has not committed any form of irregularity during the tender for the supply of AW101 helicopters to the Indian Defence Ministry.
The € 560 million contract refers the acquisition of 12 AW101 helicopters to be operated by the Indian Air force for government transport duties and an extensive five year logistic support service and initial aircrew and technician training. Contract negotiation started in September 2008 and was protracted until February 2010 when the contract was signed, with the loss of any escalation AgustaWestland would have benefited from. The contract was awarded to AgustaWestland following a comprehensive technical and flight evaluation of competing types performed by the Indian Air Force in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedures, which demonstrated that the AW101 was the only aircraft able to fully match the Indian Air Force’s operational requirements. Almost 200 AW101 helicopters have been ordered by customers around the world also to perform government transport duties. The AW101 has logged over 100,000 flight hours in service in Italy, UK, Denmark, Portugal, Japan and Canada. AgustaWestland through its UK subsidiaries have been doing business in India for almost 40 years with the delivery, in 1971, of an initial batch of Sea King helicopters to the Indian Navy for anti-submarine warfare. Further batches of Sea Kings were delivered in the seventies and eighties and many remain in service today in the antisubmarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and amphibious support roles. AgustaWestland continues to provide support, training and upgrade services to the Indian Navy for its fleet of Sea King helicopters. In 2005 AgustaWestland sold its first AW109 Power helicopter to the Government of Rajasthan and since then sales of its civil product range have taken-off with orders being placed for almost 50 aircraft.
[UPDATE ON OCT 27, 15.33HRS]
Statement from Gautam Khaitan, Advocate, Supreme Court
This is in relation to the News Reports and Stories being telecasted, streamed and published at various modes of print and electronic media regarding some alleged Defence Deal of Agusta VVIP Helicopters. To my great shock and disbelief, in the news articles/clippings/stories, my name is also emerging as a person involved in the deal. I emphatically state that I have no role at all in any defence deal of any nature whatsoever with any party/company. I am a lawyer by profession and not a businessman as has been stated in the news stories/articles. I strongly deny all such allegations and insinuation of my having any direct/indirect involvement in any defence deals along with the alleged deal of VVIP helicopters. Other than what I read in the newspapers about this deal, I have no information about this deal or any other defence deal. There is no question of any wrongdoing. I and my firm are acting as the lawyers for Aeromatrix for the limited purpose of helping the company with its statutory compliances in India and some other petty day-today matters. We have been paid remuneration for our legal services provided to the Company. Aeromatrix is completely an IT company having approx. 50-55 employees.
Labels: AIR FORCE, Aircraft And Helicopters, Army, Controversy, DEFENCE PROCUREMENTS, Government-Policy-Politics