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In November, Defence Ministry extended ban on AgustaWestland for doing defence business in India


ANI New Delhi
New Delhi, Dec 31 (ANI) Contrary to the Congress claims, AgustaWestland and its sister companies under the Leonardo Group are still prohibited from doing business in India, according to documents accessed by ANI.
The documents show that the Indian Defence Ministry had, as latest as November 8 this year, extended an order prohibiting Italian Group Leonardo, Finmeccanica's latest avatar, from doing business in India for six months.
"The matter has been again considered in the ministry and the competent authority has decided to further extend the period of suspension of business dealing with Leonardo (erstwhile Finmeccanica) for a period of 6 months with effect from 8 November 2018," reads the order, which is in possession of ANI.
The documents reveal that the last order extending the ban was issued on May 8, 2018.
The first order banning the company from doing business in India was issued on July 3, 2014, soon after the BJP government took over. At that time, Arun Jaitley was holding the Defence portfolio.
The revelation comes a day after the Opposition Congress alleged that the NDA government had removed AgustaWestland from the blacklist.
AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica Group, is mired in a controversy in the wake of allegations that bribes were paid to swing a Rs 3600 crore deal for supplying 12 VVIP helicopters to India in 2010 during the UPA government.
Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala yesterday alleged that the Modi government modified the orders related to business dealings with AgustaWestland and allowed the Finmeccanica group to do business with India if contracts were under execution with one of its subsidiaries, spares and upgrades were required or the vendor was a sub-contractor.
Finmeccanica was also allowed to participate in the Aero India-2015 exhibition in Bangalore in 2015, less than a year after it was blacklisted, Surjewala had claimed.
After the allegations surfaced, the deal was scrapped by the former UPA government and a probe was initiated.
The Indian government recently managed extradition of alleged middleman Christian Michel from United Arab Emirates (UAE) and he is now in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate which is probing money laundering allegations.
The ED recently told a Delhi court that Michel had named "Mrs Gandhi" but did not specify who exactly she was and in what context he had named her.

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First Published: Dec 31 2018 | 5:33 PM IST

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