With the VVIP choppers deal facing charges of kickbacks, the government on Thursday formally asked Italian firm Finmeccanica to state whether any money was illegally paid to any Indian entity or individual amidst its warning of legal action including blacklisting of the firm.
The Ministry of Defence, which is under attack on the issue, came out with a fact-sheet detailing the sequence of the deal for 12 helicopters clinched in 2010 by a Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland.
It notes that the mandatory technical requirements of the chopper were changed in the tender during the Vajpayee government in 2003, with the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra playing a key role.
The CEO of AgustaWestland has been asked to “categorically state the clear position in view of the current developments indicating specifically if any financial transaction has taken place with any Indian individual/entity which would be violative of the Integrity Pact or any other terms and conditions of the contract”, it said.
Noting that the contract with AgustaWestland carried an integrity pact that bars paying of bribes or involvement of middlemen, the Ministry warned of “strict action including cancellation of contract, recovery of payment, blacklisting and penal action can be taken against the vendors.”
It said the government is “determined to take all possible legal and administrative action against the guilty parties and accordingly has ordered a thorough probe by CBI.”
Giving details, the fact-sheet said that the first Request for Proposal was issued in March 2002 mandating requirement of 6,000-metre (18,000 feet) flying altitude for selection of the chopper.
This requirement made it clear that AgustaWestland could not participate in the deal.