London: Britain has stressed that it would not be intervening in any investigations into the AgustaWestland helicopter bribery case. "Prime Minister David Cameron had stated during his India visit (February 2013) that we will offer our help if asked to do so and there have been no further requests. The matter is within the Italian legal framework and we as a government will not be intervening in their investigations," a UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) spokesperson said.
He also dismissed reports that an Italian delegation was to visit London this week to specifically discuss the Rs 3,546-crore scandal under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is looking into allegations of kickbacks received by senior Indian defence officials as part of the deal. "There is no information regarding an Italian defence ministry delegation to the UK," said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence.
India had suspended payments under the terms of its $750-million helicopter procurement contract following arrests at AgustaWestland and its Italian parent firm Finmeccanica. Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland had signed a contract to supply 12 AW101 helicopters to the Indian Air Force in 2010, when allegations of bribery emerged which are being investigated by the Italian authorities. The company maintains that it had acted correctly in reaching the deal. Finmeccanica's chairman and chief executive Giuseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland chief executive Bruno Spagnolini were arrested on corruption and tax fraud charges earlier this year.
A Finmeccanica UK spokesperson said there was 'no information' of an Italian ministerial team coming to the UK as part of the investigations. The company faces being blacklisted in India for at least five years if investigators prove any bribery charges. Meanwhile, AgustaWestland was recently chosen as the supplier of the UK Department of Transport's latest search and rescue (SAR) helicopters as part of a contract with the Bristow Group. The deal is valued at about 275 million pounds and includes the supply of 11 AW189 SAR variant and related training, maintenance and support services.