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Feb 19, 2013 at 05:19pm IST

AgustaWestland chopper deal: Open to a JPC probe, says government

New Delhi: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Tuesday said that the government was open to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe on the AgustaWestland chopper deal. A Central Bureau of Investigation team on Tuesday reached Milan in Italy to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore deal.

The joint team of CBI, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs officials will first meet officials at the Indian embassy before they try and meet the prosecutor to understand the case.

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CBI sources say the officials will also visit the offices of the companies. Sources have told CNN-IBN that having exhausted diplomatic options, India is hiring a lawyer in Milan to extract information from Italy as recommended by the embassy in Rome.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has assured all support in the investigations into the British company. Cameron, who landed in Delhi on Tuesday morning from Mumbai, said, "We will respond to any request on information on AgustaWestland. I am glad Italy is looking into details. In Britain, we have introduced anti-bribery legislation that is probably the strongest anywhere in the world".

India has met and written to British officials on investigation, while the UK has only provided India an interim reply. India wants a full reply on queries on AgustaWestland, which is a UK subsidiary of Italian defence major Finmeccanica.

On Monday, Cameron had virtually washed his hands off the chopper deal calling it a matter "between India and Italy" and that he had no doubts over the dealings of AgustaWestland in Britain. Speaking to the BBC, Cameron asserted Britain has some of the toughest anti-bribery laws, adding, "people know if they do business with British companies, they have those protections."

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