New Delhi:  With the VVIP choppers deal facing charges of kickbacks, government on Thursday formally asked Italian firm Finmeccanica to state whether any money was illegally paid to any Indian entity or individual amidst its warning of legal action including blacklisting of the firm.

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The Ministry of Defence, which is under attack on the issue, came out with a fact-sheet detailing the sequence of the Rs 3,600 crore deal for 12 helicopters clinched in 2010 by a Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland.

It notes that the mandatory technical requirements of the chopper were changed in the tender during the Vajpayee government in 2003, with the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra playing a key role.

The CEO of AgustaWestland has been asked to "categorically state the clear position in view of the current developments indicating specifically if any financial transaction has taken place with any Indian individual/entity which would be violative of the Integrity Pact or any other terms and conditions of the contract", it said.

Noting that the contract with AgustaWestland carried an integrity pact that bars paying of bribes or involvement of middlemen, the Ministry warned of "strict action including cancellation of contract, recovery of payment, blacklisting and penal action can be taken against the vendors."

It said the Government is "determined to take all possible legal and administrative action against the guilty parties and accordingly has ordered a thorough probe by CBI."

Giving details, the fact-sheet said that the first Request for Proposal was issued in March 2002 mandating requirement of 6,000 metre (18,000 feet) flying altitude for selection of the chopper.

This requirement made it clear that AgustaWestland could not participate in the deal.

CBI meets Defence Ministry officials; seeks records

Finding some newspaper clippings provided by the Defence Ministry insufficient for probe in the VVIP helicopter deal, the CBI on Thursday asked the ministry to furnish all documents, including its internal investigation, for registering a formal enquiry in the case.

A CBI team met a Joint Secretary level officer in the Defence Ministry who is also Acquisition Manager (Air) and sought all records required to proceed with the probe in connection with the alleged kickbacks paid to clear the Rs 3,600 crore deal, agency sources said.

During the meeting, the CBI team asked the officials to provide it files related to any sort of internal enquiry undertaken by it in connection with alleged graft in acquiring 12 AW-101 helicopters from Italian firm AgustaWestland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, PM and other VVIPs, they said.

The agency also asked the officials to provide prima facie conclusions arrived in the probe.

The sources said the agency managed to get the 64-page report filed by Italian prosecutors through informal channels but it cannot proceed with the probe on this basis.

They said they had gone through the complaint given by the Defence Ministry and found that they have not provided any material except some press clippings which are not enough to proceed with a preliminary enquiry in the case.

According to the sources, Defence Ministry has deputed an IAF officer as nodal officer to help the CBI in its probe.

They said the ministry has provided some documents and also assured the agency to provide all the details as soon as possible so that probe can be initiated by it.

(Agencies)

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