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As per expectations, Congress Party Questions Govt decision to lift ban over Scam accused Italian Defence Firm Leonardo

Source : PTI/ANI

As per expectations, Congress Party Questions Govt decision to lift ban over Scam alleged Italian Defence Firm Leonardo
Italian Defence Giant Leonardo (earlier Finmeccanica) which was involved in Alleged scam in Agusta Westland VVIP Chopper deal in 2013

The Congress today demanded answers from the government over reports of the lifting of a ban on procurement from Finmeccanica company which had been dubbed as corrupt by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders over the Agusta choppers deal.

The opposition party claimed that a “fake bogey of corruption” was raised by the BJP over the buying of VVIP helicopters during UPA-II rule and asked if it was being given a quiet burial. India had scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland in 2014 for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks paid by the firm for securing the deal.

The BJP had at that time attacked the Congress, asking if its leaders had received the alleged ? 450 crore bribe money for the deal signed during the UPA-II government.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala today asked, “What is the ‘secret deal’ entered into between Modi Government and Agusta/Finmeccanica? Is it now ok to deal with a company that Modiji and his government called ‘corrupt- bribe giver-bogus’?”

“Does it mean that fake bogey of corruption is being given a quiet burial? The nation awaits answers,” he said in a series of tweets in Hindi.

He cited media reports that the PM Modi-led government was lifting the ban on procurement from Finmeccanica .

“The PM called the company ‘corrupt’. HM called the company ‘bogus’. Ex Defence Minister accused it of ‘bribes and corruption’ in Parliament. Then, Modi Government – withdrew blacklisting of Agusta/Finmeccanica on 22nd July 2014. Now, lifted procurement ban,” the Congress leader alleged in another tweet.

Mr Surjewala also alleged that the “friends of the media” spent thousands of hours of air time showing leaked documents by the centre and building a “false narrative” against the UPA-Congress in the run up to 2014 parliamentary elections.

“Will they now dare to question the Modi Government on the ‘secret deal’ with Augusta,” he asked.

But the interesting point is, Congress party has deliberately omitted the point that the Govt has already clarified that the investigation of scam and allegations against Leonardo company will continue as usual, only the ban on dealing with the company on other defence items has been lifted, as we can get quality weapons from them for our armed forces at a cheaper rate.

Government sources told ANI on Sunday that the ban has been lifted in dealings with the company with conditions. As per the decision, the investigation against the company by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate would continue.
“The company would also not be allowed to make any financial claims from the Government of India based on any agreements signed earlier and it will have to start afresh after the ban is lifted,” the sources said.

India had put on hold the dealings with the company in 2013-14 during the tenure of the UPA government when European agencies arrested individuals for their role in the Rs 3600 crore deal to supply 12 AW-101 helicopters to India for ferrying VVIPs.

Sources said that the decision was made by the defence ministry based on the request made by the Italian firm and consulting the Law Ministry and other agencies.

Even though the corruption case was related only to Agusta Westland, dealings with the entire group Finmeccanica were put on hold. This included deals for black shark torpedoes also which were cleared to be acquired by the Indian Navy at that time.

In 2016, Italian group Finmeccanica changed its name to Leonardo.

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