Chopper deal: Defence experts term bribery allegation a 'very serious matter'
New Delhi/ Chandigarh, Feb. 13 : Indian defence experts on Wednesday said that the allegations of bribery in the purchase of 12 helicopters from the Italian company Finmeccanica, is a very serious matter and it would be sad if the military personnel are found guilty in the deal.
Italian police arrested Finmeccanica's CEO Giuseppe Orsi on Tuesday for alleged bribes paid to secure the sale of 12 AgustaWestland executive helicopters to the Indian Air Force.
Lieutenant General (Retired) P. N. Hoon said that if the involvement of defence personnel is proven in this deal, it would be unfortunate.
"It is a very serious matter, and if the defence forces are also involved in this then I think it's very sad. The worst thing is that instead of us picking it up first, how did a foreign Italian firm? They are today telling us the names of the culprits," said Hoon, while talking to reporters in Chandigarh.
Bharat Verma, another defence analyst, said that all the factors concerning the deal need to be investigated because the former Air Chief Marshal (Retired) S. P. Tyagi has a fair amount of integrity and honesty as his reputation.
Lieutenant General (Retired) Raj Kadyan said that foreign suppliers always tried to lure in military officials to get defence contracts.
"I think we need to understand that India is a big defence market and all the defence purchases are of the arms and ammunitions, where a lot of money is involved, so there is a great competition on the part of the supplying companies to find a suitable market and they have number of arms agents floating around, who offer all kinds of temptations to the officers involved in the procurement system," said Lt. Gen. Kadyan.
Earlier in the day, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said New Delhi would blacklist the company and cancel the deal if the allegations of bribery are proven against the company.
The arrest of Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi in Milan prompted the government in India to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.
The said contract was signed in February 2010 for the purchase of 12 helicopters. In view of media reports, the Ministry of Defence through the Ministry of External Affairs had sought information from the Governments of Italy and UK. No specific inputs were, however, received substantiating the allegations.