No arbitration in AgustaWestland deal: Antony

    By IANS,

    New Delhi : There is “no question” of arbitration in the 556.262 million euros (Rs.3,726.96 crore) AgustaWestland deal for VVIP choppers that the government wants to axe on grounds of graft, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Monday.

    “There is no question of arbitration,” Antony said in response to a question on the deal.

    “A showcause notice has been given, we are waiting for a response,” Antony said.

    The defence ministry Oct 21 issued a show cause notice to AugustaWestland, the Britain-based subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, to cancel the deal for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF), informed sources said.

    The company last week nominated former Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna judge for arbitration.

    Antony has accused the company of violating its contractual obligations. The ministry had frozen the contract following allegations of kickbacks against top officials of the Anglo-Italian firm.

    The ministry concluded a contract with AgustaWestland in February 2010 for the 12 helicopters, three of which have already been delivered to the IAF.

    The helicopters were for the IAF’s elite Communication Squadron which ferries the president, the vice president the prime minister and other VVIPs. The Comptroller and Auditor General slammed the defence ministry and IAF for deviations from procedures in procurement of the choppers.