VVIP chopper deal: BJP drags Rahul Gandhi’s name in controversy

Adding a new twist to the alleged AgustaWestland chopper deal, BJP dragged the name of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in the controversy.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Adding a new twist to the alleged AgustaWestland chopper deal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday dragged the name of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in the controversy stating the involvement of his key political aide, Kanishka Singh, as per reports.

The Congress party has refuted the allegations.

According to a letter reportedly written by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, Somaiya stated that Emaar MGF Land Limited, which is owned by Kanishka Singh’s relatives, has made profits from the deal.

The letter stated, "It is believed that British citizen Michel, had received 60 percent (around Rs 210 crore) of the kickback amount of 51 million Euros (around Rs 360 crore) from Finmeccanica, the manufacturer of AgustaWestland choppers. His contacts are stronger especially with the Indian Defense which he has inherited from his father, Wolfgang Max Michel Richard, a British businessman who was very active in India between 80s and 90s and was close to the Congress party."

Soon after the claims, Emaar MGF Land Limited issued a clarification stating that Guido R Hashke, one of the alleged middlemen, was company’s director only for two months and did not attend any of the board meetings during that time.

The government on Friday cracked the whip by moving to scrap the 12 helicopter deal with AgustaWestland and decided to send a CBI team to Italy to probe the charges that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were paid to bag it.

The Defence Ministry also threatened to take other actions as per terms of the contract, an apparent reference to invoking a clause for recovery of money already paid in the Rs 3,600 crore deal. India has paid more than 30 percent of the sum.

"The Defence Ministry issued a formal show cause notice to AgustaWestland seeking cancellation of the contract and taking other actions as per terms in the contract," Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.

The company was asked to explain the bribery allegations within seven days and reply as to why the contract of 2010 should not be cancelled.

The action came after the ministry received "some report" from Italy, sources said.

The External Affairs Ministry has also written to the Italian government, seeking information on the issue.

A CBI team is also being sent to Italy where the CEOs of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica have been arrested on charges of bribery.

The Defence Ministry`s notice comes a day after it warned of legal action, including invoking integrity pact which provides for cancellation of the contract if bribes are paid and recovery of the money that went into it.