Cancel Augusta Westland Deal!
There is a continuous stream of information related to the Rs. 3546 crore Augusta Westland VVIP helicopter contract which is being currently probed by Italian investigative agencies for alleged graft. Italian authorities have seized many hours of taped conversation between the agents and consultants who pulled through the deal. Excerpts of these conversations are finding their way into the media on a daily basis. From what has appeared up till now the following conclusions may safely be drawn.
One, a sum of 51 million Euros was paid to the Switzerland based consultant to swing the deal. That consultant already has been imprisoned by Swiss authorities. Two, this money was distributed to Indians who facilitated the signing of the contract. Three, there was one very powerful individual whose name could be used effectively which the Italian investigators are not prepared to immediately disclose. Four, the name of an undisclosed individual, most likely the same, was utilized to facilitate transfer of funds from Mauritius to India . Five, the consultant who distributed the money to Indians had already devised a strategy to safeguard the names of Indian recipients of the kickbacks and at the same time become immune from prosecution in case he was summoned by an Indian court.
The Indian government has demanded full information, related in particular to all the Indian middlemen involved in the case, from the Italian government. However there is a hitch. The Italian government does not have control over the investigation which is under jurisdiction of the prosecution branch of the judicial system. The prosecution branch will most likely refuse to oblige a foreign government. Therefore for the Indian government to acquire the desired information it will have to wait till the time consuming probe is completed.
In the event there is one thing that the Indian government can do, and must do. It should cancel the contract with the Augusta Westland Company. After full information related to the case is made available the contract can be revived or renegotiated as events might dictate. The indemnity or penalty clause of the signed contract can be invoked by the government if necessary. In light of the information already available this is the least that the Defence Ministry must insist.
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Dr. Rajinder Puri
Top | Analysis
||why defeat ourselves and push back security forwards once again, after taking so long to finalise the deal? better still, take delivery urgently and then push back payments by tying them into our proverbially lethargic babudom until they come to do a deal with a discount and disclosure of the agents who can then be picked and prosecuted.||