New Delhi, Feb 15: As it braces for an opposition onslaught in Parliament next week, the government on Friday cracked the whip by moving to scrap the 12-helicopter deal with AgustaWestland and decided to send a CBI team to Italy to probe the charges that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were paid to bag it.
The Ministry of Defence also threatened to take other actions as per terms of the contract, an apparent reference to invoking a clause in the contract for recovery of money already paid in the Rs 3,600 crore deal. India has paid more than 30 per cent of the sum.
"The defence ministry issued a formal show cause notice to AgustaWestland seeking cancellation of the contract and taking other actions as per terms of the contract," ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said. The company was asked to explain the bribery allegations within seven days and reply why the contract of 2010 should not be cancelled.
The action came after the ministry received "some report" from Italy, sources said. India has also written to the Italian government, seeking information on the issue. A CBI team is also being sent to Italy where the CEOs of AgustaWestland and its parent company Finmeccanica have been arrested on charges of bribery.
The defence ministry's notice comes a day after the ministry warned of legal action, including invoking integrity pact which provides for cancellation of the contract if bribes are paid and recovery of the money already paid.