INDIA DECIDES TO BAM ON ITALIAN DEFENCE FIRM LEONARDO WITH CONDITIONS: AUGUSTA SCAM

INDIA DECIDES TO BAM ON ITALIAN DEFENCE FIRM LEONARDO WITH CONDITIONS: AUGUSTA SCAM

INDIA DECIDES TO BAM ON ITALIAN DEFENCE FIRM LEONARDO WITH CONDITIONS: AUGUSTA SCAM

The AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam is a corruption case where it has been alleged that bribes were paid to “middlemen”, perhaps even politicians, when India agreed to buy 12 AgustaWestland helicopters built by Italian defence manufacturing giant Finmeccanica at an estimated cost of Rs 3,600 crore.
 The defence ministry’s decision to resume business with Leonardo SpA is “subject to certain conditions imposed on the company”, top government experts said.
Under these conditions, Leonardo SpA cannot make any commercial claims or file any civil suit against the Indian government for any previous deal. Also, new business dealings will take place “without any prejudice” to the current investigations into the alleged VVIP helicopter scam by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, which they will pursue, the sources added. 
It has been alleged that many parameters like,  the height of the cabin of the helicopter, the operating ceiling, and the maximum altitude the helicopter could fly to, for instance- were tweaked to help AgustaWestland. The VVIP choppers case is being probed by the Central bureau of Investigation (CBI). In February 2010, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of the time agreed to a contract to purchase 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters at Rs 3,600 crore. These helicopters were supposed to be used for ferrying the President of India, the Prime Minister, and other such very, very important people.
 

 

The chopper scam came to the fore in 2012 when it was found that several politicians and bureaucrats allegedly accepted bribes to swing the deal. The scam was first uncovered in Italy. In February 2013, Bruno Spagnolini, the CEO of AgustaWestland, was arrested by Italian authorities on charges the company bribed middlemen to secure the deal with the Indian Air Force (IAF). The deal was rejected in 2014 by the Congress-led government.Key players in the AgustaWestland deal and charges against them. Former Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi: Tyagi was arrested on 9 December 2016 as he was found being linked with the case. The CBI has alleged that Tyagi played a role in recommending the reduction in the operational ceiling of the helicopters from 6000 m to 4500 m which brought AgustaWestland in the race.
 It alleged that the IAF was strongly opposed to changes but when Tyagi became the chief, he recommended these.
 
Christian Michel: Christian Michel is among the three middlemen (Guido Haschke and Carlos Gerosa were the other two) who were allegedly hired by AgustaWestland to swing the deal in the company’s favour by influencing officials. CBI has alleged that firms of Michel received about 42.27 million euros for the purpose.
The bribes were allegedly routed through companies of Michel and advocate Gautam Khaitan in the form of multiple contracts through layered transactions to camouflage them.Michel, extradited to India from the UAE in 2018, has alleged that the CBI team wanted him to take names of the Gandhi family, a claim refuted by the agency.

The MoD decision to lift the ban was taken after a high-level committee examined the matter on a request made by Leonardo SpA and submitted its recommendations after consultations with the law ministry.

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