NEW DELHI --- There has been considerable alarm in the government after it received classified documents pertaining to recent defence contracts along with an anonymous letter to top functionaries alleging corruption and fixing in a Rs. 2,000-crore Airbus deal to sell helicopters to the Indian Coast Guard.
While the norm is to ignore unsigned complaints, the detailed letter on the deal for 14 twin-engine heavy helicopters was taken seriously after it was found that several classified government documents were also attached, pointing to a leak.
The Airbus Group, against whom the allegations have been made, has informed the defence ministry that it conducted an inquiry into malpractices following a complaint by an internal whistleblower and will share the details on the possible origin and timing of the leak, sources aware of the matter said. Airbus has requested the government not to take any action until the internal probe is completed.
The internal investigation by Airbus into allegations of malpractices raised by an employee is also believed to have been the reason for cancellation of the coast guard chopper deal that was to have been signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in March.
While India was keen to go ahead with the deal for the EC 725 Super Cougar’ copters, Airbus did not extend the validity of its commercial bid in February, leading to a technical lapse in the procurement process.
It is now learnt that the bid was not extended due to the internal probe by the European company. However, fresh efforts to revive the bid are said to be under way.
ET sent a detailed questionnaire to Airbus for reactions but a response is not yet available. (end of excerpt)
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