India named affected party,may get evidence from Italy

With India being named as an affected party by Italian prosecutors who have moved court for a fast track trial in the VVIP chopper deal kickbacks scandal,the CBI is likely to soon get hold of key evidence that Italian investigators have used to allege that bribes worth 51 million euros were paid to facilitate the contract.

Written by Manu Pubby | New Delhi | Published:May 2, 2013 12:53 am

With India being named as an affected party by Italian prosecutors who have moved court for a fast track trial in the VVIP chopper deal kickbacks scandal,the CBI is likely to soon get hold of key evidence that Italian investigators have used to allege that bribes worth 51 million euros were paid to facilitate the contract.

Italian prosecutors,who have been investigating the case since late 2011,moved the court on Tuesday for an immediate trial of former CEO of Finmeccanica Giuseppe Orsi,who has emerged as the key accused in the bribery scandal.

It is learnt that the Indian government has been listed as an affected party in the case by the prosecutors and if the court agrees to this,several thousand pages of crucial evidence could be made available to India,as per Italian law.

The Indian embassy in Rome would be the nodal agency with which the information would be shared. As per Italian law,all affected parties,including the accused,have to be given access to the investigation material before the trial commences.

It is also believed that the fast track trial that has been demanded by the prosecutors,doing away with the need for a preliminary hearing into the case,indicates that a strong case exists against both Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini,who was till recently the CEO of AgustaWestland. Both have been accused of facilitating the generation of bribes in the Rs 3,546-crore deal with India for 12 VVIP helicopters that was inked in 2010.

Once the trial starts in a few days,the information will be made available to all the parties concerned,giving the CBI more evidence to tie up its own case that has been registered in the matter. The CBI has named former Air Chief SP Tyagi among others as key accused in facilitating the contract for AgustaWestland by tweaking technical requirements. The bank accounts of all Indian individuals and companies named in a CBI FIR were recently frozen by investigators.

In its reaction to the development,AgustaWestland said that it is “unable to comment directly on the ongoing investigation” but stressed that “none of the allegations have yet been tested in court”.

The company also issued a statement that it has formally sought “bilateral discussions with the Ministry of Defence” on the VVIP chopper deal,saying that such a discussion is a “legal obligation under the contract”. The company said that it is yet to get any response.

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