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Chopper scam: Govt suspends payments to Italian firm Finmeccanica Last Updated : 14 Feb 2013 09:55:48 AM IST Chopper scam: Govt suspends payments to Italian firm Finmeccanica
As the scam in the AgustaWestland chopper deal unfolded, India has suspended the remaining payment of Rs 2,400 crore to Italian defence giant Finmeccanica until the completion of a CBI probe and stopped the delivery of the nine helicopters from the company.
The action wa staken by trhe Indian government after allegations of corruption came to light in the 4,000-crore deal for 12 helicopters for use by VVIPs like the Prime Minister. The Congress and the main Opposition party, the BJP, are trading charges over who is to blame.
India has already received three of the 12 helicopters for which the deal was struck in 2010 for Rs 3,600 crore.Three of the remaining helicopters were to arrive here next month, while the remaining six were to be delivered later this year.
India has already paid around 30 per cent of the amount but the payment of about Rs 2,400 crore for the remaining choppers is expected to be put on hold till the outcome of the CBI probe, Defence Ministry sources said here.
The first batch of three AW-101 choppers arrived last month at the Palam air base and the next batch of three more choppers was scheduled to arrive by March. India was to pay the rest of the amount at the time of deliveries of the respective batches.
Defence Minister A K Antony today said India can "get its money back even at this stage". Asked whether the money paid to the Italian firm so far can be claimed back by the Indian government, Antony said, "If the Indian government paid any amount of the money, as per the provisions of the integrity pact, we can get back the entire money we paid to the vendor."
Meanwhile, Italian investigation reports suggested that Guido Haschke and Christian Michael were the main middlemen in the deal and around 15 million Euros have been paid to Indian individuals as bribes of the total kickbacks of Euro 51 million.
They are alleged to be the main middlemen in the alleged deal in the Italian investigations. In April last year, the Italian and Swiss officials raided Haschke's offices and arrested him for 24 hours after which he was released on bail.
The investigation reports also talk about taped converstaion between the middlemen suggesting that the bribe money was allegedly routed through Tunisia.
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