New Delhi: The Defence Ministry has ordered CBI probe into alleged scam in a Rs 3600 crore defence helicopter deal after arrest of head of Italian firm Finmeccanica on charges of bribery.
    
Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, was arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland.
     
Prosecutors suspect that around 50 million euros (Rs 362 crore approximately), about 10 percent of the deal were ploughed back into kickbacks to ensure AgustaWestland won the contract, a news agency reported.
    
In February 2010, India had inked the deal to acquire the 12 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries around the President, PM and other VVIPs.
     
Soon after the news of arrest reached here on Tuesday, Defence Minister A K Antony ordered a CBI probe into the deal.
    
 The Ministry said it had sought information from governments of Italy and UK but "no specific inputs" were received substantiating the allegations.
    
"Since no specific input has been received from the two governments, the Ministry of Defence has decided to refer the case to CBI for inquiry," Defence Ministry spokesman said.
    
The Italian firm had pipped American Sikorsky to bag the crore deal, which was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security despite initial objections from the finance ministry.
    
The deal has been under the scanner for more than a year now after Italian media reports suggested the arrest of two alleged middlemen in Europe for paying bribes to secure it.
    
The first three of the 12 AgustaWestland VVIP choppers have already arrived in India and the rest are expected to be supplied to the IAF by the middle of next year.

JPN/Agencies

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