New Delhi: A Brigadier of the Indian Army is under the scanner for allegedly demanding bribe of USD five million from an Italian company in a helicopter deal, with the Defence Ministry on Saturday seeking details from the government there and assuring "strong action" against the culprits.
The allegations were levelled against the Brigadier, who is currently posted at the Officers' Training Academy in Chennai, during an ongoing probe in Italy into the alleged involvement of Finmeccanica in paying kickbacks to secure defence deals including the Indian contract for 12 VVIP choppers.
Finmeccanica is the parent company of AgustaWestland and is under the scanner after a few arrests were made in Italy including personnel suspected to be the middlemen in the Indian contract. "The Defence Ministry has asked the Italian government and concerned agencies through the External Affairs Ministry to provide the name and relevant documents relating to the alleged involvement of a Brigadier in the ongoing process for the acquisition of 197 helicopters for the Army. We will take strong action against offenders detected through this probe," Defence Ministry said in a release.
The allegation have been levelled against the officer in a letter allegedly sent by an AgustaWestland official in India to his superiors in Italy saying that the Brigadier was seeking USD 5 million for facilitating the deal in their favour. The letter was submitted by Italian prosecutors in a court there.
The Ministry officials said the Italian government has been requested to provide details of the existence, if any, of any middlemen of any individual or Indian entity in the above contracts. Agusta Westland has already won the Indian deal worth over Euro 560 million for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers while its bid was rejected in the 197 choppers deal where Eurocopter and Russian Kamov are still in the race.