Action on VVIP chopper deal only after CBI probe: AK Antony

The government has requested the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for an early inquiry into the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal and would take "strongest action" after it was completed, Defence Minister AK Antony said today.

Action on VVIP chopper deal only after CBI probe: AK Antony
Defence Minister AK Antony

"We have requested CBI for an early inquiry. I can assure you that the moment we get a report from CBI we will take a strongest action provided in the integrity pact... that includes cancellation of the contract and blacklisting the companies. But before CBI's report, I don't want to jump to any conclusion," Antony said.

"At the moment I'm not in a position to say anything," Antony added.

The Indian defence ministry had Tuesday ordered a CBI probe into the $750 million deal for 12 VVIP AgustaWestland helicopters following the arrest of its Italian manufacturer Finmeccanica's chief on charges of graft in the contract.

This is not the first time that the allegations have surfaced. Three of the helicopters have already been delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the first of them in December 2010.

The contract for the helicopters had been signed in February 2010.

The IAF has sought the AgustaWestland choppers as a replacement for its Mi-17 cargo helicopters that have been modified for VVIP deployment. The Comptroller and Auditor General had made an adverse comment, saying it was a waste of resources.

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