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Posted on Feb 15, 10:14PM | IANS
Timeline of the $750-million AgustaWestland chopper deal:
August 1999: Indian Air Force seeks replacement of Mi-8 helicopters which were completing their technical life.
March 2002: A global tender issued to which four vendors respond, including Agusta Westland. However, only Eurocopter from France found to be suitably fulfilling the requirements.
Nov 19, 2003: The then principal secretary Brajesh Mishra meets the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, urging him to change the norms to include more bidders. Altitude requirements brought down from 6,000 to 4,500 metres and AgustaWestland joins the fray.
Jan 3, 2006: Acceptance for the procurement of 12 choppers accorded by the Defence Acquisition Council.
April 2008: Air force headquarters recommends AW-101 choppers by AgustaWestland, finding it to be fully compliant with all requirements.
Feb 16, 2010: India signs deal with Britain-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, to buy 12 AW101 helicopters at a price of $750 million for government transport duties.
February 2012: First reports of wrong doings in the deal appear in Indian media forcing the defence ministry to seeking a factual report from the Indian embassy in Rome.
Feb 12, 2013: Chief executive officer of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi arrested by Italian authorities for his alleged role in arranging bribes to bag the contract.
The defence ministry orders a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the corruption allegations. Italian prosecutors accuse three cousins of former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi of receiving kickbacks while Tyagi himself is accused of meeting a key middlemen six to seven times.
Feb 13, 2012: Tyagi claims innocence saying he retired when the deal was being negotiated and claims it was the National Democratic Alliance government that asked for changes in the vital technical requirements that Italian investigators believe helped the selection of the choppers.
Congress attacks the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which in turn calls it another Bofors scam dating back to the 1990s when there were allegations of kickbacks in a deal for artillery guns during the Congress governmetn led by Rajiv Gandhi.
Feb 14, 2012: India warns Finmeccanica of legal action, including blacklisting, over corruption allegations in the chopper deal and asks it whether any slush money was paid to fix the deal.
Feb 15, 2012: India issues show cause notice to AgustaWestland and asks it to file a reply in seven days. Defence ministry also issues a fresh request to Italy for information on alleged kickbacks in supply of the 12 VVIP helicopters.