VVIP chopper deal scam: Italy arrests Finmeccanica CEO, India orders CBI probe
New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony ordered a CBI probe into the VVIP chopper deal on Tuesday after the arrest of the CEO of Italian defence firm Finmeccanica on charges of bribery in connection with the sale of choppers to India.
The Ministry said it had sought information from governments of Italy and UK but "no specific inputs" were received substantiating the allegations.
"Since no specific input has been received from the two governments, the Ministry of Defence has decided to refer the case to CBI for inquiry," Defence Ministry spokesman said.
In February 2010, India had inked the deal to acquire the 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries around the President, PM and other VVIPs.
In a shocker, the Italian media reported today that Giuseppe Orsi, the CEO of Finmeccanica, has been arrested by the Italian authorities for corruption and embezzlement in connection with a 4,000-crore helicopter deal with the Indian government.
As per the reports, the alleged scam in the defence helicopter deal is of Rs 3600 crore.
Although the first of the Finmeccanica choppers has recently arrived in India, the delivery of remaining 9 of 12 AgustaWestland choppers will now be put on hold in wake of arrest of head of Italian firm, sources said.
Finmeccanica CEO was under scrutiny for past several months for his alleged wrong doings.
However, Orsi has categorically rejected all allegations of corruption levelled against him and denied any wrongdoing in the 2010 deal related to the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India.
In a statement issued in February, Finmeccanica said, "AgustaWestland is not involved in any irregularity concerning the supply of helicopters in India. No notice related to the investigations has been served."
Though he has been arrested, he has not been charged by the Italian authorities yet in connection with the deal, as per the sources.
"Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, was arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland," Italian news agency Ansa said.
Prosecutors suspect that around 50 million euros (Rs 362 crore approximately), about 10 per cent of the deal were ploughed back into kickbacks to ensure AgustaWestland won the contract, the agency reported.
Meanwhile, reacting to the arrest of Finmeccanica's head Giuseppe Orsi in Italy, India said Italy has not shared details of a corruption probe into the sale of helicopters to the Indian government.
"We had asked the government of Italy through our mission in Rome for details of the investigation but were told that it is a judicial process and the government of Italy is unable to share any information," foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said. "That remains the position even today."