New Delhi

India scrapping Finmeccanica helicopter contract

'Action started' to cancel deal for 12 copters

India scrapping Finmeccanica helicopter contract

New Delhi, February 15 - India on Friday "took action" to cancel a helicopter contract with the AgustaWestland unit of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica amid a bribery probe in which Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested and forced to step down, the Indian defence ministry said. "The Indian defence ministry has started action to cancel the contract to supply 12 AW-101 helicopters from AugustaWestland," a statement said. On Thursday India froze payment on the helicopters, two of which have been delivered and one is on the way, pending the results of the corruption probe. The defence ministry said it had asked Finmeccanica's new CEO, Alessandro Pansa, for any information he might be able to provide on suspected bribes. Finmeccanica is Italy's biggest defence contractor and a major world player, employing some 70,000 people. Silvio Berlusconi, who was premier when the deal went through in 2010, caused a flap Thursday when he said bribes to secure contracts "in the third world and with some regimes" were budgeted and accused Finmeccanica's critics of "facile moralism". On Friday the ex-premier denied he used the word "bribes" and said corruption should be prosecuted.

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