Agusta Westland scam a.k.a. Choppergate is a major defence contract scam that has been going on since 2010. Augusta Westland is an Italian helicopter manufacturing company and has supplied helicopters to India. This scam involving certain major political leaders, involves a huge sum of Rs. 3,550 crores.
The scam has been under investigation by the CBI since 2013. And recently, the Italian government convicted the company’s chief Giuseppe Orsi of bribing Indian officials and sentenced him to four years imprisonment. Here’s taking a look at what the scam exactly is about and its chronology.
Agusta Westland Scam:
1. The Beginning:
In 1999, Indian Air Force (IAF) expressed requirement of new helicopters for VVIPs. Prior to this, the government was using Mi 8 choppers which had completed their functional tenure and were not technologically advanced.
2. Entry of Agusta Westland:
In 2010, after all the procedural protocols, Agusta Westland was given the tender to provide 12 AW101 helicopters at a total price of Rs 3,546 crores to the Indian government.
3. Delivery of the Choppers:
Out of the 12 choppers, 8 were to be assigned to the VVIPs like the President, Prime Minister and other ministers.
4. The Scam Surfaces:
In 2013, the scam broke out when the CEO of Augusta Westland and the CEO of its parent company, Finmeccanica, were arrested on the grounds of bribing Indian middlemen, who helped them securing the AW101 deal.
5. Investigation Starts:
When the scam surfaced, a probe was immediately ordered by the then defence minister A.K. Antony. He also confirmed the corruption that happened and ordered CBI to investigate the matter in March 2013.
6. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) Report:
A report by the CAG revealed that a major part of the deal was not in sync with the actual requirement and also gave unnecessary preference to Agusta Westland.
7. Involvement of IAF Chief:
The then Chief of Air Staff SP Tyagi has allegedly altered the requests in such way that Agusta Westland would be the only competitor for the tender.
8. Italian Conviction:
In 2013, the Italian court convicted Bruno Spagnolin, CEO of Agusta Westland and Guiseppe Orsi, chairman of the parent company Finmeccanica, spent four and a half years in prison for bribing the middlemen.
9. Current Status of The Scam:
The money is said to have been recovered by the Indian Government and a CBI report on the matter is yet to come. The Indian Government will blacklist Agusta Westland and its parent company once the report comes out.
10. Major Accused:
According to an Italian court, Sonia Gandhi and her advisors are the ones accused in this scam.
This scam is the biggest one after the Bofors scam in the 1980s and is testimony to the corruption that the Congress allowed in the country.