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AgustaWestland claims it is clean in choppers deal

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Under the contract, the Italian firm was to supply 12 AW-101 utility helicopters (in picture) to India. An AgustaWestland photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Facing a probe in Italy over allegations of paying bribes to secure contracts in countries including India, AgustaWestland has said it has "not committed" any form of irregularity in the tender for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force.

The deal, signed in 2010, is under the scanner after the arrest of few individuals in Italy for allegedly paying kickbacks and the Indian Defence Ministry has already got in touch with Italian authorities to get details of the probe there.

"AgustaWestland has not committed any form of irregularity during the tender for supplying AW101 helicopters to the Indian Defence Ministry," AgustaWestland -- a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, said in a statement here on Friday.

It said the Indian contract was awarded to it "following a comprehensive technical and flight evaluation of competing types performed by the IAF in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedures".

However, the company was silent over charges that a Brigadier had sought a USD five million bribe form it for facilitating its victory in the deal of procuring 197 helicopters for the Indian Army and IAF.

American Sikorsky and Italian AgustaWestland were in race for the contract but only the latter could qualify the technical evaluations and the US firm's bid was also not opened.

The deal was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security despite objections raised by the Finance Ministry over price issues.

The deal was given a go ahead by the Government after the Special Protection Group and the Air Force advised to do so in view of the security situation in the country.

The deal for procuring the 197 choppers will be discussed in the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting scheduled on Monday where a presentation on it would be made by a Special Technical Oversight Committee (STOC).

This deal has also been marred by allegations that the firms in the race are not fully compliant with the requirements made in the tender.

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