Rs 350 cr paid to ‘facilitate’ VVIP chopper deal?

Italy has begun investigating the sale of 12 VVIP helicopters to India by chopper manufacturer Agusta Westland as it suspects that commission was paid to an agent to ‘facilitate’ the deal.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Italy has begun investigating the sale of 12 VVIP helicopters to India by chopper manufacturer Agusta Westland as it suspects that commission was paid to an agent to ‘facilitate’ the deal.

Italy is probing whether a commission of 51 million Euros (Rs 350 crore) was paid by Agusta Westland to Switzerland-based consultant Guido Ralph Haschke for the deal with India, The Indian Express reported. As per Indian laws, it is illegal to hire agents for defence deals.

As per the newspaper, Italian investigators have raided the offices of Haschke, in Switzerland after Lorenzo Borgogni, the former head of external relations of Finmeccanica — the parent company of Agusta Westland — blew the whistle on the millions paid to Haschke to facilitate the Rs 3,546-crore deal with India. Agusta Westland won the deal in February 2010.

Haschke is said to be well-known in the defence business circles in Delhi and is a frequent visitor to India.

The 62-year-old consultant was also associated with the Emaar MGF group and was on its board of directors in 2009.

Investigations in Italy are sure to create ripples in Delhi, especially because it comes at a time when the Defence Ministry is fighting to steer clear of any taint.

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