After fresh revelations in the VVIP chopper deal, even as the Congress has turned the tables on BJP, accusing it of removing Finmeccanica from the blacklist, turns out that the firm and its affiliates were never ‘blacklisted’ but procurement from them was only put on hold, official documents accessed and reviewed by dna show.Much political furore has been made out of who blacklisted Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries, one of which is AgustaWestland, and who waived the embargo,.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) under the nose of which the alleged corruption in the VVIP chopper deal occurred, did put on hold all procurements from the firm but never blacklisted it, the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government too went soft on it, documents reveal.On February 12,2013, the ministry of defence’s (MoD) under UPA handed over the case to the CBI after canceling the AgustaWestland deal on the ground that ‘integrity pact’ was violated. On February 10, 2014, the MoD began proceedings to blacklist the firm and its parent company Finmecanica and all contracts with them and affiliate companies were put on hold.Under NDA, while an MoD’s vigilance wing order dated July 3, 2014, more than a month after the Modi government took over in May, did reinforce putting on hold any acquisition cases “in the pipeline with Finmeccanica Group Of Companies” on August 28, through a modification order, it came out with new policies in dealing with the ‘same firms, this time going rather soft on them.The new modified policy said that “there is no reason not to proceed with the contracts” “where contracts are under execution when or other company under the umbrella of Finmeccanica Group of Companies” and also “where contract has already been executed, but spares, upgrades etc, are still required on a regular basis”.The same order. however, did say that Finmecannica and affiliates should be barred where tender process is yet to commence or where the tender process is on-going and no vendor has been picked up, or where the vendor (Finmecannica and affiliates) has been declared the lowest bidder.Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday told reporters here that the Congress must produce the blacklisting order. “Ask them what date the order was issued? Show me the copy of the order,” he said.Congress leader and defence minister during UPA government at the time of Agusta deal AK Antony said that “we started the blacklisting procedure for Finmecannica” even while he accused BJP of “unleashing a malicious propaganda” against his party. “It were us who canceled the deal. Why haven’t the Modi government completed the investigation which was instituted by us?”he asked.The fresh controversy began after an Italy court’s April 6 order described how the firm paid bribes to top Congress leaders and lobbied to bag the Rs3,600-crore deal. The court sentenced to jail Finmeccanica’s former chief Giuseppe Orsi and former CEO of AgustaWestland Bruno Spagnolini.1) Status of case in IndiaEven as the Italy court has pronounced judgments, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in India are still probing the case. The ED booked then Indian Air force Chief SP Tyagi and his relatives along with four other European Nationals and firms – Finmeccanica, AugustaWestland besides Chandigarh- based IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, and two companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia whose names figured in the CBI complaint. While Tyagi, his cousins and others are, according to the complaint involved in taking kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore to award the deal, ED has booked five properties in Delhi and nearby that belonged to him and his relatives.2) MEA response on middleman James Christian Michel’s allegation:In response to a question on allegations made by Mr. James Christian Michel on purported meeting between PM Modi and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy on the sidelines of UNGA in September 2015, the Official Spokesperson said:There was no meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Renzi of Italy as part of PM’s bilateral meetings at the UNGA in September 2015.In so far as Mr. James Christian Michel is concerned, various law enforcement authorities of India are proceeding against him in cases relating to the Prevention of Corruption Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.An open ended non bailable arrest warrant has been issued by the Special Judge of CBI against him on 24.9.2015. Upon a CBI request a Red Corner notice against him has been issued by the Interpol Headquarters on 25.11.2015. A request for provisional arrest for the purpose of extradition was made to the UK authorities on 4.1.2016 by the CBI. The Enforcement Directorate, another autonomous agency to handle private money laundering and foreign exchange irregularities, has also separately sent a Red Corner notice seeking arrest and a request for his extradition from the UK on 29.2.2016.?3) So far three BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi, Bhupendra Yadav and Anurag Thakur have given notices in parliament for debate over the issue. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia and RSP leader NK Premachandran have given counter notices.
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