India gov't under pressure over helicopter purchase
ReutersNEW DELHI--Indian negotiators set a higher base price for the purchase of helicopters from AgustaWestland and frequently changed the bidding rules, the federal auditor said on Tuesday, making it harder for the government to complete the 560 million euro (US$744.43 million) deal.
August 14, 2013, 12:10 am TWN
The Comptroller and Auditor General said the defense ministry did not comply with rules from the very beginning of the tender process to the conclusion of the contract with AgustaWestland, a division of Italy's Finmeccanica defense group.
Italy and India are separately investigating charges that AgustaWestland paid bribes to win the 2010 deal for the AW101 helicopters. India froze payments to the company in February as the scandal unfolded. It had taken delivery of three helicopters before the deal was stalled.
The auditor said the defense ministry had initially set a condition that the helicopters should be able to fly to an altitude of 6,000 meters, which meant that AgustaWestland could not compete since the AW101 was certified to fly only to 4,572 meters.
Later the minimum altitude requirement was lowered to 4,500 meters, even though the helicopters were expected to be used in the mountainous north and northeast parts of the country where the altitudes are higher, it said.
Field trials of AgustaWestland's bid were conducted on representative helicopters Merlin MK-3A and Civ-01 and on a mock-up of the passenger cabin, and not on the actual helicopter, the CAG said.