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Defence firms will have to be very watchful now before undertaking to pay bribes: Sanjay Suri

IBNLive.com
Feb 19, 2013 at 05:04pm IST

CNN-IBN's London Correspondent Sanjay Suri joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam.

Q. Do you think there is more to the eye than what is visible? Considering the money involved it cannot be only middle men but important politicians. Do you agree that sending the CBI team to Italy without registering any FIR and they going there just with their ID cards reveal anything? Asked by: AKS

Defence firms will have to be very watchful now before undertaking to pay bribes: Sanjay Suri

NN-IBN's Sanjay Suri joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the AgustaWestland chopper deal scam.

A. In such cases, and in this case there is certainly more than what is immediately visible. But it is necessary for the CBI team to be there to show prosecutors that there is an independent entity with authority in India that is interested, because India stands at the other side of this corrupt dealing. It is necessary for the CBI team to register presence and to begin a process of communication, even if that does not result in instant and dramatic conclusions.

Q. Has this deal got anything to do with Mr. David Cameroon's visit to India? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy

A. The Wetland part of the company has production facilities in Britain, but the deal was between India and the Italian companies, and so the investigation is between those two.

Q. How does the condition seem there in Italy? In india, people are used to these kind of scams and there shall be some negotiation going to happen with law just like other scams to reduce the punishment. What shall be the punishment in countries like Italy if proven with evidence? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy

A. If India and Italy share one thing, it is an abundance of scams. But Italy is more concerned these days with the Pope succession, and with elections due on the weekend. The sentence will depend on the extent of guilt and culpability found, but a guilty verdict could lead to several years in jail, not just for one but for all found guilty.

Q. How is this scam going to affect the political relationship between two nations? Asked by: deepak krishnamurthy

A. Not likely to affect political relations between the two countries unless Berusconi comes back as PM. He, the former PM, has said that this is the way to do business with countries such as India. Sadly that is probably true. But that kind of remark is not likely to help smooth diplomatic relations.

Q. Do you think UPA 2 has the record number of big scams in its almost 10 years of tenure? Asked by: Patil

A. Possibly, but my math is quite poor, and I've lost count.

Q. Why CBI is still not inquiring Indian politicians/officials involved in the deal? Asked by: Venkatesh

A. The answer to corruption in India may well lie in the hands of Finmeccanica and the middlemen. So, it is necessary for CBI to gather information in Italy if only to proceed in India.

Q. Is NDA govt guilty for this chopper scam? Asked by: avishek

A. Hard for us to say if a government is responsible.

Q. Is such kind of scam possible without any involvement of defence ministry? Asked by: Sandeep

A. First, we would have to see who bribe money can be traced to. It is only when that is established that we will know who the guilty persons are in India.

Q. Can you explain us briefly, how this scam come out? and the proceedings right now? Asked by: Venkatesh

A. A former employee of Finmeccanica told the police about the corruption and the bribes. That led to searches and the seizure of many documents. Suspect middlemen's conversations were recorded, in which they admitted to the bribing. Following the gathering of this evidence, Finmeccanica chief Orsi was arrested. An Italian investigation report speaks of money paid to Indian parties. That is what has to be investigated further.

Q. I have observed that the Gandhi family gets away with anything...scams, riots, malgovernance. What do you say? Asked by: Neela, Leeds

A. We have no evidence of the Gandhi family receiving any money here. Malgovernance is a matter of perception, and another issue.

Q. Will this scam affect the future defence deals of India? Asked by: Venkatesh

A. Certainly. It might just clean them up. Firms will have to be very watchful now before undertaking to pay bribes in a deal.

Q. Do you think AgustaWestland deal is just a tip of the iceberg? Are there many such scams yet to be unearthed in defence procurements? Asked by: Venkatesh

A. Very likely. In fact almost certainly.

Q. Is it worth and wise of scrapping each and every scam tented deal and blacklist the company? Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan

A. Bofors was a scam, but by all accounts an excellent gun. Here too nobody is alleging that the helicopters bought were bad machines. But all this should be possible without bribes.

Q. Don't you think that the common citizen of India has become immune to scams considering the number of scams which have come to the light in UPA2 regime? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker

A. Sadly, that seems true for many. But it is also true that people are rising against corruption as never before.

Q. You say the people are rising against the corruption. But what is the end-result? Scams are happening. Asked by: Shyam Vadalker

A. True, but such big changes do not come with the flick of a button. Consciousness rises, and only eventually brings on change. And maybe these are just older scams now coming to light.

Q. Why we need such expensive choppers which were rejected by US for costs and above all why don't we have legal system of middlemen similar to lobbying in US? Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan

A. After all the rhetoric and declarations, India is unfortunately not now in a position to bring in the middlemen system formally and legally. And yes, fair question, do we really need 12 expensive helicopters to move our VVIPs around.

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