‘I will seriously pursue inquiry’ into chopper deal: Antony

NEW DELHI, Apr 25: Defence Minister A K Antony today said he would “seriously” pursue the inquiry into allegations of corruption in the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters by India.

“I have not seen the (news) report. I can assure you I will seriously pursue the inquiry,” Antony told reporters outside Parliament House when asked about the allegations of corruption in the helicopter purchase deal.

“When previously the reports appeared, I asked the Defence Secretary to immediately inquire into it. He wrote to the Indian Ambassador in Italy and he got the report,” Antony said.

According to the reports, Italy is investigating allegations that helicopter manufacturer Augusta Westland paid a commission of over Rs 350 crore to a Switzerland-based consultant for a deal to sell 12 VVIP choppers to India.

“If there is any mischief anywhere, I will take sternest action and I will seriously pursue the case,” Antony said.

Replying to a question in Parliament on the same issue in March, Antony had said the government had asked its Indian mission in Rome to provide a report into investigations by Italy in the allegation of corruption by Augusta Westland’s parent company, Finmeccanica.

The report by the Indian Embassy had indicated that Italy was conducting a preliminary investigation into allegations of financial malpractices occurring within Finmeccanica, and its subsidiaries in general.

But there was no specific probe being conducted about India-related transactions, Parliament was told. (PTI)