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Feb 13, 2013 at 10:00pm IST

Tainted chopper deal: CBI approaches Indian embassy in Italy for documents

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday evening approached the Indian embassy in Italy seeking documents related to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. The Indian government announced a CBI probe into the alleged scam after Italian investigations threw up the name of an ex-Indian Air Force chief, SP Tyagi.

The government also put the deal on hold, according to sources, pending the probe and the allegations of scam in the Rs 3,600 crore deal.

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The scam had unfolded with the arrest on Tuesday of the head of a state-controlled Italian aerospace company that is suspected of paying bribes of about Rs 362 crore in India to get orders for helicopters to ferry Indian VVIPs.

Chopper deal: CBI approaches Indian embassy in Italy

The government has put the deal on hold, say sources, pending the probe and the allegations of scam in the Rs 3,600 crore deal.

Giuseppe Orsi, the head of Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, was arrested on Monday in relation to a probe into international corruption. He is suspected of involvement in the payment of bribes regarding the sale to the Indian government of 12 helicopters produced by Finmeccanica's subsidiary AgustaWestland.

Defence Minister AK Antony said CBI has been asked to give an early report on its probe into alleged kickbacks in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal. "Once we get the preliminary inquiry report from CBI, strongest action will be taken against those found guilty," he said.

Asked about reports of the alleged role of former IAF chief SP Tyagi in the deal, the Minister said, "I have no information." "After the CBI report, we will take serious action that may include cancelling the deal," he said. "We don't want to jump the gun. We can get our money back even at this stage," Antony said.

Meanwhile, Tyagi has denied involvement in the case and said changes in the helicopter tender were made before his tenure started. He, however, said he is ready for an inquiry into the bribery case that led on Tuesday to the arrest of Orsi.

Tainted chopper deal: The big questions

- Why is the Italian government not providing details of its investigation to India?

- What did the government do to pursue the case with Italy over the past two years?

- Will India make a fresh request for information to Italy and UK now?

- Why didn't the government order a CBI inquiry into the deal earlier?

- After Italy refused to share information, did the Centre explore India's options at all in the last 2 years?

- What did Defence Ministry's inquiry reveal? On what basis did AK Antony tell Parliament in 2012 that 'no specific probe is being conducted about India-related transactions by Rome'?

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