Corruption main issue in AgustaWestland: Defence ministry

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New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The defence ministry said on Thursday the primary issue in the AgustaWestland chopper deal is corruption and it will “leave no stone unturned” to bring out the truth.

The statement, the first official comment from the defence ministry on the issue, also said investigation agencies are pursuing all aspects, including the arrests and extradition of “foreign nationals” Carlo Gerosa, Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James. All three are alleged to be middlemen in the deal.

A day after Congress accused the government of trying to help blacklisted AgustaWestland and asked why it had not acted against the firm, the statement said “questions have been raised on certain trivial technicalities, which appear to be intended to distract attention from the core issue of corruption”.

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“Publicly available information on the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters clearly shows that the core issue in the matter is corruption.”

“The present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrong-doers in this case. The time taken is largely because some of the key perpetrators of this misdeed are outside the country,” it said.

A Italian court has found that AgustaWestland bribed Indian officials to bag the $530 million contract for the supply of 12 AW101 choppers.

The Indian government, however, cancelled the deal in 2013 when a controversy over the deal emerged with the arrest by Italian authorities of Giuseppe Orsi , CEO of Agusta’s parent organisation Finmeccanica.

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