New Delhi: Cracking the whip, India on Friday initiated action to scrap the deal for purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from Italian firm Agusta Westland in the wake of allegations that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were paid to bag it.

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The Defence Ministry issued a show cause notice to Agusta Westland, asking it to explain within seven days the bribery allegations, Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.

The notice asked the company why the Rs 3,600 crore deal of 2010 should not be scrapped.

"The Defence Ministry issued a formal show cause notice to Agusta Westland seeking cancellation of the contract and taking other actions as per terms of the contract," the spokesman said.

The notice comes a day after the ministry warned of legal action, including invoking integrity pact which provides for cancellation of the contract if bribes are paid and recovery of the money already paid.

India makes fresh request to Italy for info
Meanwhile, India on Friday made a fresh request to Italy for information on alleged kickbacks in supply of VVIP helicopters.
Noting that there were reports in Italy on investigation in the alleged scam in a defence helicopter deal with Italian- firm Finmeccanica and its chief being arrested in Milan, the government has made a fresh request for information in the matter, top government sources said here.
"The Ministry of Defence has made the request through Indian mission (in Rome)," they said.
They said, though the request has been made in past also, India has not been able to elicit any response, the argument being that this was a judicial process.

On Thursday, MoD had formally asked 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.
Briefing the reporters earlier this week, officials spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs had said, "As far as we are concerned, we had through our Embassy in Italy requested the Italian Government to provide us information that they may have in connection with allegations which have been made on the matter.
"We have not received any response from them so far on that, the argument being that this is in Italy a judicial process. Because the prosecutors are perhaps working under judicial supervision, therefore, the executive is not able to share that information with us. That is where we stand on that."

CBI to probe kickbacks charge
CBI on Friday registered a complaint given by the Defence Ministry to probe alleged kickbacks paid by the Italian firm to clear the deal.
The agency has registered the complaint to ascertain allegations of corruption against Indian nationals and whether any kickbacks were paid, CBI sources said.
The registration of complaint is the first step before initiating a formal inquiry in a case.
A team of Defence Ministry officials on Friday handed over to CBI documents pertaining to the case. Once a complaint is received from a Ministry, CBI officers decide whether it contains specific and definite allegations involving corruption or serious misconduct against public servants etc. which fall within the ambit of CBI.
After a complaint is registered, CBI decides whether to file Preliminary Enquiry, in case further ground work is required, and subsequently register a case or file an FIR directly.
The CBI team had on Friday asked the officials to provide its 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 Agusta Westland for IAF's elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the President, PM and other VVIPs, they said.


India has already received three of the 12 helicopters and paid upto 30 percent of the amount.


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