New Delhi, March 18 IANS | 7 months ago

India Tuesday said it will appeal against the Italian court order rejecting its attempt to recover 300 million euro in bank guarantees provided by AgustaWestland in a 560 million euro contract for 12 VVIP helicopters that was cancelled in January over alleged graft.

"The government of India will be filing an appeal against the order of the Italian court in Milan in the case relating to encashment of bank guarantees in the contract for the procurement of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland International Ltd. Simultaneously, the government will vigorously pursue all options for encashment of the bank guarantees," a defence ministry official said here Tuesday.

The defence ministry had signed a contract with AgustaWestland, the British subsidiary of Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica, in February 2010 for the 12 helicopters for the Indian Air Force Communications Squadron that ferries dignitaries like the president, the vice president and the prime minister. Three helicopters have already been delivered.

The CBI has registered a case against 19 people, including six companies to probe the alleged kickbacks in the deal.

The defence ministry had in February last year, after the arrest of then Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi in Italy, had frozen all further payments to AgustaWestland, with around 45 percent of the total contract value having been already paid to the company.

India has already cashed in two bank guarantees worth Rs.2.4 billion submitted in the State Bank of India, while it is demanding encashment for the guarantees with Deutsche Bank abroad.

Orsi and former AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini, who have both denied the allegations, are on trial in Italy.

The origins of the deal go back to 2005, when an Indian daily had reported that a tender floated by the defence ministry had invited information from Agusta-Westland, among other companies, of its helicopters for trail testing for a possible induction into the IAF.

(Posted on 18-03-2014)

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