Clarify on Agusta chopper scam, BJP asks ex-minister Antony
New Delhi, April 26: The BJP on Tuesday asked former defence minister A.K. Antony to clarify if any Congress leader was involved in accepting bribe in the $750 million AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal. BJP leader and union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Antony had confirmed corruption in the deal. “If he (Antony) said clearly that bribe has been given, he should tell if any Congress leader is involved,” Prasad said. “Bribe-givers have been convicted; why are the bribe-takers silent?” he asked.
He alleged that a Central Bureau of Investigation probe in the case was hindered by the then United Progressive Alliance government.
The CBI probe in the helicopter deal is on. “The government expects the CBI to pursue the matter vigorously,” the minister said, adding that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) too should probe the money laundering charges.
Italian group Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland’s former head Bruno Spagnolini were sentenced by a Milan appeals court to jail terms for false accounting and corruption in the sale of the firm’s 12 VVIP choppers to India.
While Orsi was given four and a half years in jail, Spagnolini was awarded a four-year jail term. Three of the helicopters were delivered to the Indian Air Force before the contract — signed in February 2010 — was cancelled.
The IAF 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 adverse comments, saying it was a waste of resources. (IANS)