Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why BJP is digging its own grave by raking up the Agusta Westland Deal




A heated debate took place in the Rajya Sabha on the alleged corruption and irregularities in the VVIP Chopper Deal (Agusta Westland Deal) between the treasury benches and the opposition.

Many important points were made in the Parliament by various members, especially from the opposition benches. Congress leaders laid out authenticated facts, while the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar read out a 45 minute long written statement which looked as if it was a monologue with no concrete answers to the ‘Short Duration Debate’ at hand where various members across party lines had raised concerns ranging from National Security to Defence Procurement Policy to the inability of the present Modi Government to nail down any one in the bribery deal.

Many opposition parties and BJP allies cautioned the Government and the BJP to exercise restraint and take action against the culprits in the scam rather than just ranting against the Congress party. Sharad Yadav from the JD (U) used a very earthy term “BJP Ke Log Sirf Gaal Baja Rahe Hai” (BJP is only shouting) and urged the Government to ‘act more and talk less’. Ram Gopal Yadav from the SP, Mayawati from the BSP and even Sanjay Raut from the Shiv Sena echoed the same sentiment.
It is the Modi Government which is in power since the past two years, and instead of bringing the culprits to the book, they are just shouting from all forums and telling the Congress leaders to come clean on the issue.

BJP President Amit Shah goes on repeating “Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko Daate”- The “Kotwal” from 2004-2014 was the UPA Government- and it took every action necessary in order to bring the culprits to the book. Now since the ‘Kotwal’ has changed – It is Shri Modi’s NDA Government since the past two years, we want to ask what steps they have done to punish the ‘culprits’ of this deal.

Does Shri Amit Shah, go against his masters ‘Saheb’ in bringing Former Air Chief Marshall, Shri S.P. Tyagi to book- who is the main accused in this scam? What is the connection between Air Chief Marshall, Shri S.P. Tyagi and Shri Ajit Doval (present NSA & Director of Foundation) as also Shri Nripendra Mishra, PS to Prime Minister?
Did Vivekananda Foundation take any bribes or kickbacks on the pretext of Shri Tyagi being its board member? Did Shri Ajit Doval also help the Vivekananda Foundation through these funds? Why doesn’t Shri Modi – who is ‘Kotwal’ now, order a CBI enquiry into the funds of Vivekananda Foundation?

Infact, the Defence Minister mislead the August House when he parroted incorrect information on the floor of the House regarding the deal.

Lets look at some of the hard facts in the entire saga surrounding the Agusta Deal

STATEMENT OF FACTS OF AUGUSTA WESTLAND CASE

1(i)    August, 1999

          Indian Air Force (IAF) proposed replacement of MI-8 VIP Helicopters on account of severe operational constraints and completion of total technical life.

 (ii)    March, 2002

Global Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued. Four vendors responded. Many helicopter manufacturers including Russian Helicopter MI-172 and Augusta Westland etc. could not bid as they did not complete the mandatory Operational Requirements (ORs).

 (iii)   19.11.2003

Principal Secretary to then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee took a meeting. In the meeting, it was decided to keep the Operational Requirements (ORs) at an altitude of 4,500 metres against the original 6,000 metres.

 (iv)   22.12.2003        

Principal Secretary to then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee wrote a letter dated 22.12.2003 to Air Chief pointing out that PMO and SPG should have been consulted while framing mandatory Operational Requirement (ORs). He suggested that Chief of Air Staff and Defence Secretary should review and draw up realistic mandatory requirements.

  (v)   March, 2005 to September, 2006

Operational Requirements (ORs) were deliberated at length between IAF, NSA, SPG, PMO and Ministry of Defence. Consequently, an operational altitude of 4,500 metres as also other configurations were arrived at as earlier decided.

For reference to 1(i) to (v) above, please see paras 1 to 6 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Defence Ministry (Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

2.       27.09.2006

Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued for 12 Helicopters to six vendors.Three vendors namely (a) M/s Sikorsky, USA; (b) M/s Augusta Westland, UK and (c) M/s Rosboroneexport, Russia responded to the RFP. Rosboroneexport, Russia did not submit earnest money deposit or sign the Integrity Pact leaving the other two i.e. Sikorsky, USA and Augusta Westland, UK.

3.       08.02.2010

After negotiations and approval from Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Contract for 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters was awarded to Augusta Westland, UK. Contract with Augusta Westland categorically envisaged as follows:-

(i)      It included specific contractual provisions against ‘bribery’ and use of ‘undue influence’. Article 22 of the Contract dealt with penalty for use of ‘undue influence’. Article 23 of the Contract contained a complete prohibition on the seller regarding dealings through an agent or payment of any agency commission to any individual or firm.

(ii)     In addition to the above provision, Augusta Westland had also signed ‘Integrity Pact’ with the Government of India. Under the ‘Integrity Pact’, bidder committed itself to take all measures necessary to prevent corrupt practices, unfair means and illegal activities during any stage of the bid or during any pre or post contract stage. Any breach thereof would result in forfeiture of earnest money, performance bond, cancellation of contract etc.

This was done to ensure complete transparency and integrity of the process.

(Please see para-18 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence - http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)

4.       February, 2012 and 16.07.2012

News reports of unethical dealings surfaced in February, 2012. Defence Ministry of the then UPA government directed its Embassy to seek relevant information. As no information was forthcoming, Embassy in Italy was asked and it made a formal request on 16.07.2012 to Naples (Italy) Prosecutor’s Office.

(Please see PIB press release dated 12.12.2012 of Ministry of Defence(http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=90429) and para-26 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)




5.       19.04.2012 and July, 2012

On 19.04.2012, Ministry of Defence wrote to CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for examining the issue as news reports were suggesting allegations of corruption against various persons. In July, 2012; Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed Ministry of Defence that it was enquiring into the allegations.
(Please see para-31 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 -http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)

6.       November, 2012 and January, 2013

In November, 2012; Director, Income Tax (Investigation) wrote to Defence Ministry seeking information on allegations against possible middlemen. In January, 2013; Ministry of Defence conveyed the entire facts to Income Tax authorities.

(Please see para-32 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence - http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237)

7.       12.02.2013 and 25.02.2013

News was reported with regard to arrest of Mr. G. Orsi, CEO of Finmecanica/Augusta Westland for financial malpractices in procurement of 12 helicopters for Indian Air Force.

On receipt of news reports, Defence Ministry asked CBI to register a case. CBI registered a case on 12.02.2013 against six companies i.e. M/s Finmecanica, Italy; Augusta Westland, UK; IDS, Tunisia; Infotech Design System, Mauritius; IDS Infotech Limited, Chandigarh and Aeromatrix Infotech Solution, India.

Finally on 25.02.2013, CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) in the matter.

(Please refer to reply dated 06.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 961 as also reply dated 11.12.2013 to Parliament Question No.669)



On 13.02.2013, Defence Ministry also asked the Embassy in Rome to send a factual report qua arrest of Mr. G. Orsi as also nature of charges framed and other relevant details besides taking up the matter with the Judge for the Preliminary investigation. On 15.02.2013, Indian Embassy in Rome forwarded a response from the Judge pointing out that as investigations are at a preliminary stage, same are covered by ‘Secrecy’ in terms of Article 329 of Code of Penal Procedure in Italy. It was also added that as Secrecy obligations are over, they would examine a new request from India.

(Please refer to reply dated 11.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 2147)


              
8.       15.02.2013

Show Cause Notice was given to Augusta Westland qua cancellation of the Contract.

It was also decided to (a) put on hold the operation of the Contract relating to procurement of helicopters; and (b) stop further payment to Augusta Westland.

It was further decided that no contract negotiation was to be held with Augusta Westland in any capital procurement case.

(Please refer to reply dated 11.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 2259)



9.       20.02.2013 to 11.12.2013

Pursuant to Show Cause dated 15.02.2013 by GoI to Augusta Westland for cancellation of Contract, multiple correspondence and replies dated 20.02.2013, 04.03.2013, 11.03.2013, 18.03.2013, 10.04.2013, 16.04.2013, 04.10.2013, 20.11.2013, 25.11.2013 and 11.12.2013 were exchanged between the two parties i.e. GoI and Augusta Westland vis-à-vis cancellation of the Contract. In course thereof, even personal hearing was granted by GoI to Augusta Westland on 20.11.2013.

10.    27.02.2013

The then Defence Minister, Shri A.K. Antony proposed to set up a JPC to examine Augusta Westland case by moving a motion in Rajya Sabha. BJP as also the then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Shri Arun Jaitley refused the offer by saying that it is an exercise in futility. BJP demanded a Supreme Court-monitored investigation.

11.    May, 2013

Government of India received the first set of papers from Italy regarding Augusta Westland including copy of search and seizure order issued by the Judge for the preliminary investigation, copies of certain contracts entered by a shareholder of Augusta with various entities in Tunisia, India etc.

(Please refer to reply dated 08.05.2013 to Parliament Question No. 4540)



12.    July to December, 2013

‘Letter Rogatory’ was issued to various countries including Mauritius, Tunisia, Italy etc. by ED and CBI.

(Please refer to reply dated 19.08.2013 to Parliament Question No. 1977)



This fact of issuance of ‘Letter Rogatory’ in July, 2013 and December, 2013 by CBI and ED has been admitted by Government of India also as recently as on 29.04.2016 in a PIB press release (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=142592 )

13.    01.01.2014

The then UPA government terminated the Contract with Augusta Westland.

Consequent thereto, the then UPA government proceeded to encash two Indian bank guarantees amounting to Rs.240 crore approximately.

Further, a demand was made on Deutsche Bank, Milan, Italy for encashment of advance bank guarantee. Augusta Westland obtained an interim stay from the Ordinary Tribunal of Milan, Italy. Government of India initiated legal proceeded against Augusta Westland in Milan, Italy for encashment of bank guarantee.

(Please refer to reply dated 05.02.2014 to Parliament Question No. 1579)


Reference may also be made to PIB press release dated 18.03.2014 issued by Ministry of Defence qua filing of an appeal in Italian court by Government of India for encashment of bank guarantee

14.    23.05.2014

Government of India won the case on 23.05.2014 for encashment of bank guarantee worth Euro 2,28,00,00,00 (228 million) in the court at Italy.

(Please refer to PIB press release dated 25.05.2014 of Ministry of Defence- http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=105151 A copy of the news report of Business Standard specifically mentioning the amount of Euro 228 million corroborates the same)

15.    26.05.2016

Shri Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister.     

Now let us look at what action did Congress led UPA took in the case

CONCRETE ACTION TAKEN BY UPA IN AUGUSTA CASE.

1.       UPA government ensured complete transparency, accountability and integrity of the process of global tendering leading to award of contract for 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters to Augusta Westland.

Contract with Augusta Westland categorically envisaged as follows:-

(i)      It included specific contractual provisions against ‘bribery’ and use of ‘undue influence’. Article 22 of the Contract dealt with penalty for use of ‘undue influence’. Article 23 of the Contract contained a complete prohibition on the seller regarding dealings through an agent or payment of any agency commission to any individual or firm.

(ii)     In addition to the above provision, Augusta Westland had also signed ‘Integrity Pact’ with the Government of India. Under the ‘Integrity Pact’, bidder committed itself to take all measures necessary to prevent corrupt practices, unfair means and illegal activities during any stage of the bid or during any pre or post contract stage. Any breach thereof would result in forfeiture of earnest money, performance bond, cancellation of contract etc.

          (Please see para-18 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

2.       UPA government asked for an investigation into allegations of corruption by CBI, Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax. UPA government also made a request to Naples (Italy) Prosecutor’s Office for information and documents into the allegations against officials of Augusta Westland.

            On 19.04.2012, Ministry of Defence wrote to CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for examining the allegations of corruption.
In July 2012, Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed Ministry of Defence that it was enquiring into the allegations.

            In January 2013, Ministry of Defence also conveyed the facts of the case to the then Director, Income Tax (Investigation).

          (Please see paras-31 and 32 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Ministry of Defence http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

On 16.07.2012, Indian Embassy in Italy made a formal request to Naples (Italy) Prosecutor’s Office for information on unethical dealings in Augusta Westland sale of helicopters to Indian Air Force.

            (Please see PIB press release dated 12.12.2012 and 14.02.2013 (para-26) of Ministry of Defence http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

3.       UPA directed registration of CBI case.

As news came with regard to arrest of Mr. G. Orsi, CEO of Finmecanica/Augusta Westland; Defence Ministry asked CBI to register a case on 12.02.2013 against six companies. On 25.02.2013, CBI registered a preliminary enquiry.

            (Please refer to reply dated 06.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 961 as also reply dated 11.12.2013 to Parliament Question No.669)

4.       UPA government issued a Show Cause Notice dated 15.02.2013 and cancelled the contract with Augusta Westland on 01.01.2014.

          

         In March 2013 itself, UPA also decided that no contract negotiation was to be held with Augusta Westland in any capital procurement case.

          (Please refer to reply dated 11.03.2013 to Parliament Question No. 2259)

5.       UPA government sent ‘Letter Rogatory’ to various countries including Mauritius, Tunisia and Italy in July, 2013 and December, 2013 after receipt of first set of papers from Italy in May, 2013.    

          (Please refer to reply dated 08.05.2013 to Parliament Question No. 4540 and reply dated 19.08.2013 to Parliament Question No. 1977, Issuance of ‘Letter Rogatory’ in July and December, 2013 has also been admitted by GoI in their PIB press release dated 29.04.2016)

6.       UPA government had even proposed to set up a JPC to examine Augusta Westland case by moving a motion in Rajya Sabha on 27.02.2013. BJP refused the offer by demanding a Supreme Court-monitored investigation.

7.     UPA government encashed the two Indian bank guarantees        amounting to Rs.240 crore approximately at the time of termination of contract.

         (Please refer to reply dated 05.02.2014 to Parliament Question No.1579)

          UPA government also demanded encashment of bank guarantee from Deutsche Bank, Milan, Italy and finally won the appeal in Italian court on 23.05.2014 for encashment of bank guarantee worth Euro 2,28,00,00,00 (228 million).

            UPA government, thus, recovered nearly Rs.2,068 crore from Augusta Westland (Rs.240 crore bank guarantee with Indian banks + Euro 228 million from Deutsche Bank, Milan, Italy), besides confiscating three helicopters as against a payment of  Rs.1,586.66 crore made to Augusta Westland. Hence, UPA government recovered more money and not a rupee of loss was caused to public exchequer.

(Please see reply dated 16.12.2014 to Parliament Question No. 2559)

(B)     DID UPA GOVERNMENT CHANGE THE OPERATIONAL REQUIREMENTS (ORs) FOR HELICOPTERS BY REDUCING IT TO 4,500 METRES FROM THE ORIGINAL 6,000 METRES?

1.       Please see para-1(i) to (v) of Statement of Facts.

2.       On 19.11.2003, Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee took a meeting. In the meeting, it was decided to keep the ‘Operational Requirements’ (ORs) at an altitude of 4,500 metres against original 6,000 metres.

          Principal Secretary to the then Prime Minister - Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee also wrote a letter dated 22.12.2003 to the Air Chief pointing out that PMO and SPG should have been consulted while framing ‘Operational Requirements’ (ORs) besides suggesting that Chief of Air Staff and Defence Secretary should review and draw up realistic mandatory requirements.

          Between March, 2015 and September, 2016; ‘Operational Requirements’ (ORs) for VVIP helicopters were deliberated at length between IAF, NSA, SPG, PMO and Ministry of Defence. Consequently, an operational altitude ceiling of 4,500 metres and other configurations were arrived at.

          (Please see paras-1 to 6 of PIB press release dated 14.02.2013 of Defence Ministry http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=92237 )

(C)     WHY WERE ‘FIELD EVALUATION TRIALS’ (FET) OF HELICOPTERS HELD ABROAD? DID IT VIOLATE THE ‘DEFENCE PROCUREMENT PROCEDURE’ (DPP)?

1.       Field trials for Augusta Westland helicopters were held in UK and for Sikorsky helicopters were held in USA.

2.       During last NDA government (1999-2004), ‘Defence Procurement Procedure - 2002’ envisaged field evaluation trials ‘abroad’. (Please refer to para-27 of DPP – 2002



 ‘Defence Procurement Procedure, 2006’ applicable to Augusta Westland contract also envisaged trials to be conducted ‘abroad’ in vendor’s premises. (Please refer to para-38 of DPP-2006)


Even during the current Modi government, ‘Defence Procurement Procedure, 2016’ envisages conduct of field evaluation trials ‘abroad’ in vendor’s premises. (Paras-65 and 66 of DPP -2016)



It is, thus, clear that there is no bar to conduct field evaluation trials ‘abroad’ either in the previous NDA government or the Congress government or the current Modi government.      


Now let us see what the Modi Sarkar did in the last two years


HOW DID MODI SARKAR PROTECT AUGUSTA WESTLAND?

1.       Investigation by CBI/ED/Income Tax has not been concluded in two years of Modi government establishing laxity and an intent to help Augusta Westland surruptitiously.

In fact, conclusion of CBI investigation appears to be nowhere close. This is clear from a recent Parliament reply dated 04.03.2016 to Question No. 1359 given by Defence Minister, Shri Manohar Parrikar, wherein he has clearly admitted that, “Finalisation of investigation by CBI is dependant upon execution report of the pending letter rogatory from eight different countries”.

 2.      Modi government undid the process of banning Augusta Westland within a short span of 48 days for completely unexplainable reasons.
On 10.02.2014, UPA government initiated the process for banning/ blacklisting Augusta Westland.

On 03.07.2014, process got completed and Modi government proceeded to ban Augusta Westland, its parent company – Finmecanica and other group companies.

Immediately thereafter, Modi government took opinion of Attorney General of India. On 22.08.2014, Modi government proceeded to undo its own order by permitting Finmecanica/Augusta Westland and their group companies to participate in defence contracts as (a) sub-contractor; and (b) supplier to the contracting party. A copy of the order dated 22.08.2014

3.       Modi government has not blacklisted Augusta Westland or its group companies. Order dated 03.07.2014 only imposes a ban on Augusta Westland and group companies during the pendency of ongoing CBI investigation dated 25.02.2013.

          This is apparent from Parliament reply dated 18.07.2014 to Question No. 1417 given by the then Minister for Defence, Shri Arun Jaitley

          What is important to note is that Parliament do not reply dated 18.07.2014 clearly establishes that is Augusta Westland or its group companies debarred nor have they been suspended indefinitely.

4.       BJP President, Shri Amit Shah described Augusta Westland a ‘bogus company’. Modi government granted Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval on 08.10.2015 to the same company i.e. Augusta Westland.

          What is the reason for granting FIPB approval for joint venture to a tainted company like Augusta Westland, which is under CBI scanner on charges of bribery? This fact has not been explained till today.

5.       Modi government has also permitted Augusta Westland to be part of ‘Make-in-India’ programme and participate in ‘Aero India Exhibition’.

          (Please see PIB press release dated 03.03.2015)

          Modi government needs to explain the reasons for its benevolence towards Augusta Westland and acting as its benefactor.



















              





5 comments:

Umashankar Das said...

This is not a court of law. Where you confuse people by showing irrelevant documents. The Bottomline is, you're trying to say, Augusta Westland gave bribes but nobody received a bribe.

Just walk on the road and ask people, did congress take bribes for AW or not? Your answer will be there.

Rest is meaningless.

shubha said...

Lol, why trying futile efforts to safeguard that Italian bar dancer boss? Just chill.

shubha said...

Lol, why trying futile efforts to safeguard that Italian bar dancer boss? Just chill.

Suresh Jha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Safal Trading said...

waoo i read this article "Why BJP is digging its own grave by raking up the Agusta Westland Deal". its very useful for me

Thanks,

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