New Delhi

Indian auditors criticize helicopter deal

India buying 12 helicopters from Finmeccanica

Indian auditors criticize helicopter deal

New Delhi, August 13 - Indian auditors on Tuesday criticized their government over a major contract to buy a dozen helicopters from Italy's Finmeccanica, the latest twist in a long-running saga about the troubled deal. In a report to Parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India criticized the procurement process used in the multimillion euro purchase of 12 helicopters equipped for VIP use from Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland. Both Italy and India have opened separate judicial investigations into allegations of bribery in the deal. Prosecutors in Italy want to hold a quick trial for former Finmeccanica chief executive Giuseppe Orsi along with Bruno Spagnolini, chief executive of the AgustaWestland helicopter unit. Orsi and Spagnolini are suspected of corruption in relation to bribes allegedly paid to secure the contract to sell the dozen AgustaWestland helicopters to India. ß Indian auditors said they felt that the contract involved an "unreasonably high" expense and said regulations on supplies and contracts were violated. And they questioned the decision by the former air force chief, S.P. Tyagi, in 2007 to conduct the helicopter trials overseas. Indian detectives have raided Tyagi's home as part of the separate bribery investigation. The government of India froze payments on the contract in February and threatened legal action if any wrongdoing was uncovered.

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