NEW DELHI, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- India on Wednesday scrapped a multi-million dollar chopper deal with British defense firm AugustaWestland over allegations of kickbacks, sources said.
The 800 million U.S. dollars deal, to acquire 12 helicopters for ferrying important people like Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh among others, was canceled by the Defense Ministry following its dissatisfaction with an explanation by officials of AugustaWestland over accusations that the company had paid bribes to secure the contract, the sources said.
The Defence Ministry in October last year issued a notice to AgustaWestland, the British arm of Italian defense major Finmeccanica, seeking to cancel the chopper deal and gave the company time till November 26 to reply.
The allegations of kickbacks, in fact, surfaced after Italian police last year arrested the then chief executive of Finmeccanica on charges of paying bribes to secure the defense deal from India. However, the company denies the accusations of kickbacks in which former Indian Air Force chief S.P. Tyagi also came under scanner.
The scrapping of the deal with AugustaWestland means that a fresh contract may soon be open for other defense companies like United Technologies Corp's Sikorsky Aircraft, Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin, the sources added.