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CBI to quiz Army officers in chopper deal

Statesman News Service |

Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 1 September
The CBI will soon examine Army officers who were part of the selection process for the 197 light utility helicopter deal which came under scanner of Italian authorities during their probe into bribery allegations against AgustaWestland in VVIP helicopter agreement.
It was alleged that a Brigadier of the Army who was heading the flight trials in 2010 had demanded $5 million from AgustaWestland to help swing lucrative deal in favour of the company.
The name of the officers surfaced during the probe carried out by Italian authorities in connection with the bribery allegations against AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica in the VVIP helicopter deal.
The agency has registered a preliminary inquiry in the deal and asked at least five Army officers, who were part of the selection process for the deal, to appear before it and help in its probe, CBI sources said.
They said although the officer has not been questioned yet in connection with the case, the agency has asked at least five Army officers to appear for examination in the case so that inquiry could be completed soon and decision on registering an FIR could be taken.
During their probe, Italian authorities had come across documents which revealed that the army officer was seeking $5 million to swing the lucrative 197-light helicopter deal in the company’s favour. The authorities had found a letter which also formed part of their investigation report submitted in the Italian court. It claimed that the officer allegedly made contact with the company in Bangalore in January 2010.
The officer had allegedly offered the company to apprise them with the developments in the deal, the letter claimed. He allegedly gave deficiencies detected in three competitors who were in fray for the contract and communicated them to the company. The officer also allegedly offered to help the company during the field trial stage. The officer concerned was involved in field trials of the light helicopters. The acquisition process of the helicopters has been put on hold till the inquiry is completed.
The ambitious procurement project was aimed at 197 light helicopters to replace the Cheetah and Chetak fleet. The matter was referred to the CBI for probe but the agency has not yet questioned the officer. The sources said they want to understand the acquisition process for the helicopter deal and require examination of the Army officers.