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'Govt must identify all bribe takers in chopper deal'

Rajdeep Sardesai | http://sardesairajdeep

Updated: February 19, 2013, 6:20 PM IST
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'Govt must identify all bribe takers in chopper deal'
The BJP leader said debate in Parliament on the deal was no substitute for the identification of bribe takers.

New Delhi: Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, on Tuesday attacked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over the AgustaWestland chopper deal. "We don't target the government, they give us an opportunity to target them," said Jaitley.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that it was the responsibility of the government to identify the bribe takers in the case, adding, "debate on AgustaWestland in Parliament is not a substitute for the identification of the bribe taker".

Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Jaitley further said that even scrapping the deal was no substitution for the identification of bribe takers.

When asked if he suspected that someone having authority, and not a middleman, was the real bribe taker in the chopper deal case, Jaitley said, "A middleman gets commission, bribes go to the decision makers."

Though the Rajya Sabha leader of opposition agreed that the probe by the government could take some time, he said that it was about the intention of the government if it wanted to bring out the truth in the case. "The government certainly can have some time...if the government is honest, identification in possible," said Jaitley.

This came even as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that the government was open to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe on the AgustaWestland chopper deal.

Meanwhile, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team on Tuesday reached Milan in Italy to probe the allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore deal.

The joint team of CBI, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs officials will first meet officials at the Indian embassy before they try and meet the prosecutor to understand the case.

CBI sources say the officials will also visit the offices of the companies. Sources have told CNN-IBN that having exhausted diplomatic options, India is hiring a lawyer in Milan to extract information from Italy as recommended by the embassy in Rome.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has assured all support in the investigations into the British company. Cameron, who landed in Delhi on Tuesday morning from Mumbai, said, "We will respond to any request on information on AgustaWestland. I am glad Italy is looking into details. In Britain, we have introduced anti-bribery legislation that is probably the strongest anywhere in the world".

India has met and written to British officials on investigation, while the UK has only provided India an interim reply. India wants a full reply on queries on AgustaWestland, which is a UK subsidiary of Italian defence major Finmeccanica.

On Monday, Cameron had virtually washed his hands off the chopper deal calling it a matter "between India and Italy" and that he had no doubts over the dealings of AgustaWestland in Britain. Speaking to the BBC, Cameron asserted Britain has some of the toughest anti-bribery laws, adding, "people know if they do business with British companies, they have those protections."

First Published: February 19, 2013, 6:20 PM IST
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