ibnlive » India

Feb 21, 2013 at 08:29am IST

Chopper deal: CBI team left red faced as Italian authorities refuse to share any documents

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team met the Italian judge presiding on Wednesday the case but they were red faced as Italian authorities refused to share any documents with them. Sources from the district attorney office in Milan said that the most they can do is to allow the CBI team to meet the judge or the magistrate who prepared the arrest warrant of the Finmeccannica officials.

The CBI is now headed to Rome to meet the Finmeccanica officials on Thursday. Meanwhile, Finmeccannica ex-CEO Giuseppe Orsi was interrogated twice by the Italian authorities. Reports said that Orsi refused to admit that he had any dealing with the former Indian Air Chief Shashi Tyagi.

The joint team of the CBI and Defence Ministry in Italy was told that the probe in that country was also in its initial stage and that arrests made in that country so far were more of a preventive nature so that the evidence was not tampered with. Italian authorities have arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the chairman of Italian Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, Chief

Executive officer of AgustaWestland.

Meanwhile, the investigative agencies has engaged two law firms in Italy for liaisoning with the authorities to get legal assistance in probing the role of Indians in connection with the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.

Official sources said that Chiomenti law firm and Grippo law firm have been asked to help in coordinating with the Italian authorities for getting documents and other relevant material pertaining to the AgustaWestland deal for supplying 12 helicopters to India. The two firms will represent India's case with the Italian government and the local courts for getting evidence regarding alleged kickbacks in the deal. Kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were allegedly paid to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

The joint team comprising a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a Joint Secretary level officer of the Ministry and an official of the External Affairs Ministry has been camping in Milan to gather as much inputs as possible.

The CBI's decision to send a team to Italy came after it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged kickbacks. The CBI was handed over a letter from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which, the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case.

This was followed by CBI seeking help of Interpol which also expressed inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, they said.

With Additional Inputs from PTI

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