M A I N   N E W S

Italian court says can’t give copter deal papers
Joint teams of Defence Ministry, CBI to visit Italy tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
As teams from the Defence Ministry and the Central Bureau of Investigation are getting ready to fly to Italy to obtain details of the alleged illegal pay-offs in the Rs 3,500-crore VVIP copter deal, an Italian court is learnt to have rejected India’s plea for documents related to the investigations into the case.

The Italian probe report has a mention of a military man who too received kickbacks. The middleman of Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica, Guido Haschke, mentions negotiations with an important person in the Indian defence set-up apart from former IAF Chief SP Tyagi and his three cousins.

The Indian embassy in Rome received communication today from the Judge of Preliminary Invetigations of the Tribunal Busto Arsizio Luca Labianca stating that it was "not possible to give a positive reply" to the Indian request, the sources said.

The judge is hearing the matter on alleged bribes which AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, routed through a team of European middlemen to Indian officials. In the letter received by the Indian embassy, the judge said: “The investigations were, in fact, at a preliminary stage, during which, as per Article 329 of Code of Penal Procedure, all information is covered by secrecy. Only parties and their lawyers were allowed to have access to the information and documents.”

However, there’s a glimmer of hope. In the letter, the Italian judge has told the Indian embassy that his office will consider a "fresh request" from the Indian side once the secrecy obligations into the matter get over. Indian embassy in Rome had requested for documents of the probe after the arrest of Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi in connection with allegations that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 350 crore were paid in VVIP copter deal. Lorenzo Borgogni, former head of external relations of Finmeccanica, was arrested in 2012 following a phone-tap in Italy by agencies that were looking for links between the mafia, big companies and government officials. He has now turned an approver and spilled the beans on his bosses. The MoD today said it was sending Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Air) Arun Kumar Bal to Italy on Monday to try to get as much information as possible related to the facts of the deal. The CBI team will comprise an investigation officer and a law officer.

The MoD had yesterday initiated the first step to cancel the deal by issuing a show-cause notice to AgustaWestland, asking why the contract should not be cancelled in view of the corruption allegations against it. It sought a reply within seven days. In a statement, AgustaWestland has contradicted reports which pre-maturely talked about cancellation of the contract.

“The MoD has not cancelled the contract but has given notice. AgustaWestland is preparing its answers,” it said.

Appearing before a magistrate in Italy, Orsi has denied that he gave any mandate to Guido Hashcke for "any type of manoeuvre" for the operation of India, or about knowing the Tyagi family,” Orsi's lawyer Ennio Amodio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA. Haschke, in his testimony, has said he was acting on behalf of Orsi.

The family mystery

  • The warrant in Italian Court talks about how “the family” was to get nearly Rs 194 crore. There were two agreements between AgustaWestland and the middlemen. One was for 42 million euros (Rs 294 crore), which the copter-maker was to pay to Global Services of Christian Michel.
  • While the BJP on Friday night alleged that “the family” was a reference to Gandhis, the Congress denied it.
  • On Saturday, the lawyer of arrested CEO Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi told Indian mediapersons in Italy that the reference to "the family" in Italian documents pertains to Tyagis.






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