New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has engaged a lawyer in Italy to represent India’s case with the Italian government and the local courts to find out the role of Indians in the alleged kickbacks in the Rs3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.
Official sources said on Sunday that the assistance of a lawyer was taken to help understand the Italian law and expedite getting documents from the helicopter company. The lawyer, if necessary, would be approaching the court in Italy for procurement of documents, they said. A team of CBI and defence ministry officials is leaving for Italy on Monday to verify allegations of kickbacks in the supply of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters. The team comprise a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a joint secretary-level officer of defence ministry and an official of the external affairs ministry.
The team’s departure was delayed by a day due to some last-minute formalities which required to be fulfilled before travelling abroad for the purpose of investigation, they said, adding the team would try to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case.
The CBI’s decision came after it virtually drew a blank from the defence ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged kickbacks of Rs362 crore in the case.
The CBI was handed over a letter from the defence ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case. CBI had sought help of Indian Mission in Rome which too has not been able to provide any authenticated court documents to the agency, the sources said. This was followed by CBI seeking help of Interpol which also expressed inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, they said.
The defence ministry had on Saturday sent a team led by joint secretary and an Air Commodore of Indian Air Force, who gave a presentation to the CBI about the tendering procedures and various stages while finalising the helicopter deal with AgustaWestland. However, when pressed by the CBI officials about the kickback allegations, the team could not provide any answers to the sleuths, the sources said.