VVIP chopper scam: UPA did not blacklist AgustaWestland, says govt

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)
Amid the raging row over VVIP chopper scam, the government today said it will seek a report from the CBI on the deal and initiate the move to blacklist AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica. It also claimed that the previous UPA dispensation had not put any embargo on the scandal-tainted company.

Top Modi government sources claimed the UPA government had not blacklisted AgustaWestland despite allegations of bribery and that it was only when the NDA came to power in 2014 all acquisition proposals with the firm were put on hold.

CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister.

Congress had yesterday claimed AgustaWestland was blacklisted under UPA rule but "removed" from the blacklist by the Modi government.

Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma had said, "The chopper deal was scrapped. Action was taken by the UPA government. A K Antony, the then Defence Minister, had made a statement in Parliament and AgustaWestland was blacklisted."

However, the government sources said, "The only punitive action taken by the Congress was in January 2014, just before the Lok Sabha elections, when the UPA govermment encashed the bank guarantee. They never blacklisted the company as claimed by them".

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier in the day challenged the Congress to show the order by the UPA government confirming the blacklisting.

It was on July 3, 2014 when Arun Jaitley was Defence Minister that an order was issued which put on hold all procurement and acquisition cases in the pipeline with six companies involved in the scam including AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica, the sources said.

They said it was also decided that in cases where the tender process had not started, there shall be no dealing with those companies and entities till conclusion of the CBI probe and that Request for Intent/Request for Proposal shall be issued to any of them.

The sources said the question was not about being banned or not but about who the politicians, bureaucrats and IAF officials were who took the bribes as reported by the Italian Court.

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