Govt yet to take any decision to blacklist AgustaWestland

The government has not yet taken any decision to blacklist AgustaWestland and any such move will depend on the outcome of the CBI probe, AK Antony said.

New Delhi: The government has not yet taken any decision to blacklist AgustaWestland - the Anglo-Italian firm accused of paying kickbacks - and any such move will depend on the outcome of the CBI probe, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

In a written reply to the House, the Minister also said that the company has submitted its bids to supply helicopters to Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard (ICG).

"No decision regarding blacklisting of AgustaWestland company has been taken so far, as the matter is under examination," he said.

Asked to state details of legal implications that forces government "not to cancel VVIP helicopter deal with AgustaWestland" and blacklisting its parent company Finmeccanica, Antony said, "Decision for cancelling the contract will depend on the outcome of the CBI investigation."

The Defence Ministry had signed a contract with AgustaWestland in February 2012 to procure 12 VVIP helicopters at a total cost of EUR 556.26 million.

On whether CBI has come to the conclusion that there is a case of corruption in the deal, Antony said, "The FIR contains allegations of criminal conspiracy, abuse of official position, offering illegal gratification and acceptance of illegal gratification by concerned person/middlemen."

He also said that the CBI is also examining whether the case includes contractual violation and criminal liability.

On whether some of the tainted companies in the chopper deal have applied for tenders for supply helicopters, Antony said, "Yes. AgustaWestland has submitted bids for Naval Utility Helicopters of Navy and Twin Engine Helicopters proposal of ICG."

Replying to a separate question whether government has demanded documents from Italy regarding the chopper scam, Antony said, "The Ministry has received an initial set of documents from Italy which includes copy of search and seizure order issued by the judge for preliminary investigation."

The documents also include copies of certain contracts entered by a shareholder company of AgustaWestland with various entities in Tunisia and India, Antony said, adding that, "Letter Rogatories to various countries are under preparation by the CBI."

Answering a query on procurement of choppers from American company, Boeing, he said the Indian Air Force (IAF) is processing cases for procurement of Chinook CH-47F Heavy Lift Helicopters and AH-64D Block-III Apache from it.

Presently both the proposals are at Contract Negotiations Stage and "Both the cases have been processed through multi- vendor RFP as per the extant Defence Procurement Procedure," he said.

In a separate reply, Antony also told the House that Government of Karnataka has offered 1060 acres of land in Bidar to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to set up a helicopter manufacturing unit.