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PMO unhappy with the idea of cancellation of AgustaWestland chopper deal: sources


Pallavi Ghosh,CNN-IBN
Feb 18, 2013 at 11:59am IST

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New Delhi: The government is divided on whether to cancel the AgustaWestland chopper deal or not. Sources say the Prime Minister's Office is unhappy with the proposal to cancel the chopper deal. This comes amidst reports that the Defence Minister was inclined to cancel the deal in view of the bribery allegations against former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi.

The government is non-committal on axing the AgustaWestland deal. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the showcause notice is just the first step, but indicated the government may not go all the way. "Whether we are planning to cancel or not, I don't know. There is a provision for cancelling, I think the government is entitled to give a showcause notice, they have given a showcause notice. But any further steps that are taken should be taken, keeping in mind, both our entitlement as far as the contracts are concerned and the implications for ourselves," Khurshid said.

ALSO SEE Chopper deal: Key middlemen not traceable; CBI team set to leave for Italy

Meanwhile, a Central Bureau of Investigation team is set to leave for Italy on Tuesday to investigate whether firms were floated in India just to route kickbacks. The team will try to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain details of the case.

The CBI has engaged a lawyer in Italy to represent India's case with the Italian government and the local courts to find out the role of Indians in the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP helicopter deal. The team comprises a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a Joint Secretary level officer of Defence Ministry and an official of the External Affairs Ministry, the sources said.

An Italian probe report claims that three cousins of former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi were among the beneficiaries. However, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's cousin Sanjeev Tyagi on Saturday rubbished allegations of his involvement in the tainted AgustaWestland chopper deal in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN. Speaking to Rajdeep Sardesai, Sanjeev, who is mentioned in the Italian probe reports as 'Julie' Tyagi, said that the allegations against him and his cousin SP Tyagi were baseless and had maligned the image of their families.

"I have no links with AgustaWestland. I am not aware of any deal. I did not receive any payment. (Guido Ralph) Haschke is lying. Finnmeccanica is trying to cover up its own bungling. The charges are baseless. It is very easy to tarnish someone's reputation, but can the media pay it back?" he said.

Sanjeev revealed that he had met Haschke in 2001 in connection with a power sector deal and that he had known Carlo Gerosa, another middleman in the chopper deal, since 1995 through a deal related to the infrastructure sector. He also said that he had met Haschke through Gerosa.

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