Puro­hit Flagged Right-Wing Rad­i­cal Groups

Says de­fence min­istry showed ‘sub­stan­tial dis­re­gard’ to help Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties in Agusta case

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Manu.Pubby @times­group.com

New Delhi: The UPA govern­ment showed “sub­stan­tial dis­re­gard” in ar­riv­ing at the full truth be­hind the VVIP chop­per scan­dal and didn’t share crit­i­cal doc­u­ments with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, an Ital­ian court that found cor­rup­tion in the .₹ 3,565-crore deal ob­served. It also listed an ef­fort by the main ac­cused to get the then Ital­ian prime min­is­ter Mario Monti to reach out to his In­dian coun­ter­part Man­mo­han Singh.

In its 225-page or­der, ac­cessed by ET, the Court of Ap­peals, Mi­lan, de­tailed at length its grounds for con­vic­tion. At one point, it ob­served (trans­lated): “This show­ing (of) a sub­stan­tial dis­re­gard to ar­rive at a full ex­pla­na­tion of facts (was) ef­fec­tively demon­strated by the pro­ce­dural be­hav­iour of the In­dian Min­istry of De­fence.”

The Ital­ian court of ap­peal – equiv­a­lent to an In­dian High Court — fur­ther spec­u­lated whether this may be con­nected to a hand­writ­ten note re­cov­ered in March 2013 from for­mer Agus­taWest­land head Giuseppe Orsi’s prison cell. “Call Monti or amb. Ter­ac­ciano in my name to ask him to call the PM Singh”. Tur­bu­lence in Air What The Ital­ian Court Says

govt did not share doc­u­ments with Ital­ian pros­e­cu­tors in VVIP chop­per deal

UPA

links seized note to un­sat­is­fac­tory ‘out­come of re­quests for ju­di­cial as­sis­tance sent to In­dian Au­thor­i­ties’

Monti was the then Ital­ian PM while Ter­ac­ciano was his diplo­matic ad­vi­sor. The court then went on to state that while it’s not in a “po­si­tion to de­ter­mine what was the mes­sage that Orsi, dur­ing his de­ten­tion, in­tended to send to the head of Govern­ment of In­dia but the same can be guessed if we think about the out­come of re­quests for ju­di­cial as­sis­tance sent to In­dian au­thor­i­ties.”

A foot­note ex­plained that Italy had re­quested In­dia in April 2013 to get full doc­u­men­ta­tion in the case to prose­cute, but only three doc­u­ments were pro­vided and that too by March 2014. In fact, the judge­ment, which also raised ques­tions on the in­volve­ment of Bri­tish mid­dle­man Chris­tian Michel, ex­ten­sively re­ferred to a re­port by the In­dian Comptroller of Au­di­tor Gen­eral (CAG) on the VVIP chop­per con­tract to prove wrong­do­ing in the In­dian pro­cure­ment process.

The Ital­ian court had ear­lier ruled that the 2010 deal to pur­chase 12 VVIP he­li­copters by In­dia from Agus­taWest­land in­volved in­ter­na­tional cor­rup­tion and or­dered a four-anda-half-years jail term to the for­mer head of the com­pany, Giuseppe Orsi.

Based on taped con­ver­sa­tions of mid­dle­men and Agus­taWest­land of­fi­cials as well as doc­u­ments shared by the Ital­ian pros­e­cu­tors, the court ob­served that there are ‘un­equiv­o­cal in­di­ca­tions’ that there was cor­rup­tion in­volved in the deal and that Orsi and oth­ers in the com­pany un­der­took ex­treme ef­forts to block in­for­ma­tion and de­stroy ev­i­dence.

As re­ported by ET, on April 8, the Ital­ian court of ap­peals over­turned a lower court judge­ment that said cor­rup­tion could not be proved. The court also found two of Fin­mec­ca­nica’s for­mer top bosses guilty of in­ter­na­tional cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing. Be­sides Orsi, Bruno Spag­no­lini, who headed chop­per divi­sion Agus­taWest­land, was also con­victed and given a four-year jail term. The court fined them 7.5 mil­lion eu­ros for vi­o­lat­ing Ital­ian anti-cor­rup­tion rules. Fin­mec­ca­nica has al­ways de­nied any wrong­do­ing in the case and the two con­victed for­mer bosses have said they will ap­peal against the court de­ci­sion.

In 2013, the Congress-led UPA govern­ment can­celled the VVIP chop­per deal with Agus­taWest­land on grounds that the in­tegrity pact was vi­o­lated. The govern­ment has re­cov­ered most of the money paid to the Ital­ian com­pany for the con­tract and three VVIP chop­pers that were de­liv­ered to In­dia have been moth­balled.

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