New Delhi : Congress on Monday raised questions on the lift of ban on Italian defence giant Leonardo SPA, formerly Leonardo-Finmeccanica and originally Finmeccanica, which was blacklisted following the VVIP chopper scam.
According to Defence ministry officials, the ban on business dealings with Leonardo SPA, an Italian multinational company specialising in aerospace, defence and security, has been lifted, but with certain conditions.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at the government and said the Agusta scam got “washed” in “BJP’s laundry”.
“Earlier #Agusta was corrupt, now it has been washed clean in the BJP laundry! RIP logic,” he tweeted.
Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also questioned the decision. “PM called the company “corrupt”. HM called the company “bogus”. EX Defense Minister accused it of “bribes & corruption” in Parliament. Then, Modi Govt withdrew blacklisting of Augusta/Finmecanica on 22nd July 2014. Now, lifted procurement ban. What is the “secret deal” entered into between Modi Govt & Augusta/Finmeccanica?” Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned in a tweet.
“Is it now ok to deal with a company that Modi ji & his Govt called “corrupt-bribe giver-bogus”? Does it mean that fake bogey of corruption is being given a quite burial? Nation awaits answers!” Surjewala said.
Congress Spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the then government of UPA had ordered an enquiry, lodged an FIR, and handed the case to CBI in February, 2013. He also said the government had proposed setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee, but BJP refused to participate.
“On January 1, 2014, the Congress-led UPA government cancelled the contract to purchase 12 helicopters from AgustaWestland. Till then, a payment of Rs 1620 crore had been made to Agusta and three helicopters had been delivered to India. On canceling the contract, the UPA-Congress government encashed the bank guarantees worth Rs 240 crore of Agusta Westland deposited with Indian Banks,” said Vallabh, giving out details of the events around the VVIP chopper deal.
“The Congress-led UPA government had also filed a case against AgustaWestland in Milan, Italy. On May 23, 2014, the UPA government won the case for encashment of International guarantees of AgustaWestland to recover Euro 2,28,00,00,00 (Two-Twenty Eight Million). In this fashion, the Congress-led government recovered a total of Rs 2,068 crore from AgustaWestland against the payment of Rs 1,620 crore. In addition, it confiscated three AgustaWestland helicopters, which remain in our possession,” he said.
Finmeccanica was the parent company of AgustaWestland, which was enmeshed in the Rs 3,546 crore VVIP helicopter scam. In February 2013, the Defence ministry ordered a CBI probe into the deal, following the arrest of Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi on charges of graft in the contract in Italy. CBI also filed a case against Agustawestland chief Bruno Spagnolini and alleged middleman Christian Michel James. The probe by the national agency is yet to conclude.