Chopper probe: Defence official going to Italy

New Delhi, Feb 16: The Defence Ministry Saturday said it was sending senior Joint Secretary A.K. Bal to Italy to gather details on the 12 AW101 VVIP helicopters deal which got mired in allegations of kickbacks.

The Defence Ministry said in a statement that it was “deputing a senior joint secretary to Italy to gather as much evidence as possible relating to the allegations of corruption in the acquisition of 12 AW101 VVIP helicopters for the Indian Air Force.”

Bal would be leaving for Rome by Monday.

Earlier, a two-member team of the CBI was also set up to go to Italy to probe alleged kickbacks paid by Italian firm Finmeccanica to clinch the $750 million/Rs.3,600 crore deal for 12 VVIP helicopters.

Reports had emerged about alleged corruption in the February 2010 deal to acquire 12 AW101 helicopters from Finmeccanica’s subsidiary AgustaWestland.

The helicopters were for IAF’s elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the president, the prime minister and other VVIPs.

Italian agencies Tuesday arrested Finmeccanica chief executive officer (CEO) Giuseppe Orsi for alleged corruption to seal the deal.

IANS