New Delhi. 29 April,2016. Today was a day of blame games and clarifications in and outside the Parliament. The government clarified that it has acted proactively and with alacrity against Agusta Westland International and Finmeccanica. “It is the present government which through its order dated 3 July 2014, put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases in the pipeline of six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI, namely: M/S Agusta Westland International Ltd., UK, M/S Finmeccanica, Italy, and its group companies, including subsidiaries and affiliates, M/S IDS, Tunisia, M/S Infotech Design System (IDS), Mauritius, M/S IDS Infotech Ltd, Mohali and M/S Aeromatrix Info Solution Pvt Ltd, Chandigarh.
In doing so, we did not let the preparedness of our defence forces suffer. At the same time, we also ensured that no new capital procurement was made thereafter from these companies in the tenure of the present Government.
The factually misinformed have also made a mention regarding clearance of a joint venture involving Agusta Westland by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. This proposal was approved on 2nd September 2011 based on an application by Indian Rotorcraft Ltd a joint venture of Tata Sons with Agusta Westland NV, Netherlands. This was later changed to Agusta Westland S.p.A Italy due to reorganization within the group. On 7th February 2012, an industrial licence for the manufacture of helicopters was granted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. However, the validity of licence has since expired.
In their drive to divert the public attention from their own corruption, some have said that the Modi government permitted Augusta Westland to bid for 100 Naval Utility Helicopters in April, 2015. The fact is that a techno-commercial Request for Proposal (RFP) for Naval Utility Helicopters was issued to eight vendors on 4 August 2012. In response to the RFP, M/S Eurocopters, France and M/S Agusta Westland S.p.A Italy submitted their techno-commercial proposals on 4 March 2013. RFP of the procurement case was retracted by the Government on 13 October 2014.
The Indian Navy has hosted on the website a Request for Information for more than 100 Naval Utility Helicopter in October 2014. No Request for Proposal has been issued, therefore the question of permitting Agusta Westland to bid for the Naval Utility Helicopter in April 2015 does not arise. The government is exploring whether their manufacturing can be pursued under “Make in India”.
On the core issue of corruption, the timeline of actions taken by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate clearly shows due rigour and diligence with which these agencies have pursued all aspects of their investigations, including the arrest and extradition of three foreign nationals namely Carlo Gerosa,. Guido Haschke Ralph and Christian Michel James.
CBI has so far investigated over 100 witnesses. In September and November 2014, couple of accused have been arrested and their property attached. A criminal complaint was also filed. Letter of Requests were sent out by ED and CBI to Mauritius (July 2013), Tunisia and Italy (December 2013), British Virgin Islands, Singapore and U.K. (September 2014), UAE and Switzerland (December 2014). The agencies are continuing to pursue responses to the LRs from the countries concerned.
Further, an open ended non bailable arrest warrant was issued by CBI against Christian James Michel on 24 September 2015. Red Corner notices were issued in December 2015 and January 2016 through Interpol under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Prevention of Corruption Act on charges of conspiracy and abuse of official position in giving favours to M/s AWIL.
Extradition request has also been made for Christian Michel James. A request for provision arrest for the purpose of extradition was made to the U.K. authorities on 4 January 2016 by CBI. Enforcement Directorate, another autonomous agency to handle private money laundering and Foreign Exchange irregularities, has also separately sent a Red Corner seeking arrest and a request for his extradition from the U.K. on 29 February 2016.”
By asking why did Prime Minister and BJP government not take any action on the alleged offer dated 08.11.2015 made by James Christian Michael to be questioned by CBI and ED including on Indian soil, some have even tried to side with a wanted criminal.
It is well known that any understanding/agreement with an accused outside the frame of law is a criminal act in itself. James Christian Michael is a criminal wanted by the Indian law enforcement agencies. We are pursuing all legal means to arrest him and have him extradited to India. Michel should submit himself to the Indian legal system rather than make elliptical references to offers that are suspect in intent and reality. We are determined that the law must take its course against Michel and his associates in this matter. “