New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday raised serious concerns over the AugustaWestland helicopter deal during talks with his British counterpart David Cameron.
“I conveyed our concerns about allegations of unethical
means used in AugustaWestland contract for purchase of helicopters,” Manmohan Singh said after meeting Cameron.
The Indian Prime Minister also said that his government has sought UK`s help in finding out whether integrity pact was breached in the over Rs 3500 crore deal to supply 12 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force.
Responding to the request by the PM, British Prime Minister David Cameron assured India full cooperation on the chopper matter.
Commenting on the chopper issue, Cameron said, “UK has one of the toughest anti-bribery laws.”
Both leaders are treading with caution as the chopper deal is a sensitive issue for both sides, while Manmohan Singh is fighting hard to steer clear of any corruption taint on his government, Cameron wants the deal to go through as AgustaWestland employs nearly 5,000 people in the UK, and there are obvious concerns over chopper deal cancellation.
The Indian government has already put on hold the deal and launched the process to cancel it amid allegations that kickbacks of 51 million euro (approx USD 68 mn) were paid to clinch the deal.
It has also issued a show cause notice to AgustaWestland as to why the contract should not be scrapped in view of the corruption allegations. The notice is seen as a precursor to scrapping the deal as the defence ministry holds that bribery would be violative of the integrity pact that all defence suppliers are subject to and violations of which are liable to be punished by cancellation, fines and blacklisting of firms.
AgustaWestland has said it was preparing to clarify the points raised by the Indian government.
The helicopters were for the IAF`s elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, the Prime Minister and other VVIPs.