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AgustaWestland gets more time to reply to ‘show cause’ notice

Ministry of defence has given more time to the AgustaWestland to reply to ‘show cause’ notice that sought a reply why the contract with it for supply of nine more AW101 VIP transport helicopters shall not be scrapped. The Anglo-Italian joint venture has been told to respond to the notice by 25 November.

But more importantly, the company owned by the European conglomerate, Finmeccanica, has been allowed an audience with the MoD honchos on 20 November, official sources of the ministry said Monday.

This is the meeting where they will possibly be able to argue a technical point: that the original deal was negotiated with the British partner, Westland, while the alleged bribery took place at the Italian end of the joint venture.

The opening for this argument is expected to be triggered by David Cameron, the British prime minister who is expected to visit the city from 14 November, who will strongly argue the case for the corporate entity.

It is believed, air force observers say, that if the AW 101 deal is indeed cancelled by India, then it would threaten the existence of the British arm of the joint venture, leading to a possible closure, which translates into lost jobs.

These observers also say that the British prime minister’s argument could carry weight within the UPA II government because the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has ‘not yet been able to trace the money trail of the alleged Italian bribe, in the country till now.’

This is reason for which they have not been able to file any chargesheets against the accuseds, former Air Chief Marshal, Shashi K Tyagi or more importantly his three cousins, Julie, Docsa and Sanjeev, who run an engineering firm in New Delhi.

Indian Air Force (IAF) entered into the contract for 12 AW 101 VIP transport choppers in 2006, and three of them have already been supplied. The cost of the contract was Rs 3,600 crore. One third of the amount has already been transferred to the company.
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