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‘Final decision on AgustaWestland deal soon’

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New Delhi, Nov 27: AgustaWestland has submitted its reply to the Indian defence ministry’s final show cause notice in the VVIP chopper deal and the ministry is expected to take a final decision on the contract soon, said informed sources.

They said that AgustaWestland had submitted its reply, denying any wrongdoing in the deal.

The sources said that the ministry will examine the company’s reply carefully before taking a final decision.

Facing the threat of the deal being cancelled, AgustaWestland on Nov 20 nominated retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna on its behalf for arbitration.

However, Defence Minister A. K. Antony had on Monday categorically ruled out arbitration in the Rs.3,727-crore deal.

AgustaWestland officials had on Nov 20 met defence ministry officials to present their case and are learnt to have conveyed there was no wrongdoing in the deal.

The ministry, earlier this month, had extended by 15 days the deadline set for AgustaWestland, the Britain-based subsidiary of the Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, to reply to the show-cause notice issued on Oct 21 for cancelling the deal for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Sources said the company was asked to give a written reply to the show-cause notice by Nov 26.

Defence ministry officials have maintained there was no cause for arbitration. They have said the company has been accused of violating the integrity pact.

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