India lifts ban on Italy arms firm linked to Agusta scam | India News – Times of India

The Augusta Helicopter Scandal was published in 2012 (file photo)

NEW DELHI: India has lifted a ban on business transactions with defense chief Leonardo SPA, a former Italian company involved in the infamous Rs 3,546 crore VVIP helicopter scandal with its UK-based subsidiary Augusta Westland International since 2013-02.
The Defense Ministry’s decision to resume business with Leonardo SPA was “subject to certain conditions imposed on the company,” a top government source told TOI on Saturday. Under the terms, Leonardo SPA cannot make any commercial claim or file any civil suit against the Government of India for any prior agreement. Furthermore, the ongoing investigation into the alleged VVIP helicopter scandal by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate will result in new business transactions taking place “without any bias”, which will continue, the source added.
The MoD decision to lift the ban was taken after a high-level committee examined the matter at the request of Leonardo SPA and submitted its recommendations after consultation with the law ministry. Italy has repeatedly called on India to lift sanctions on bilateral talks. Prime Minister Modi also held his first private meeting with his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome on October 29.
Sources said the ban on Leonardo SPA and its affiliates had “limited India’s options” in the international arms market as the team developed extensive weapons systems ranging from torpedoes and 127mm naval guns to radar and short-range surface-to-air missiles. .
In early 2012, allegations of paying Rs 360 crore as bribe to Indian politicians, bureaucrats and IAF officers in a Rs 3,546 crore deal to supply 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters first surfaced in an investigation by prosecutors in Italy. The agreement was signed in 2010. The CBI had filed cases against former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi, Augusta Westland chief Bruno Spagnolini and alleged mediator Christian Michelle James.

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