The Central Bureau of Investigation has engaged two law firms in Italy for liaisoning with the authorities to get legal assistance in probing the role of Indians in connection with the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.
Official sources said that Chiomenti law firm and Grippo law firm have been asked to help in coordinating with the Italian authorities -- to get documents and other relevant material pertaining to the AgustaWestland deal -- for supplying 12 helicopters to India.
The two firms will represent India's case with the Italian government and the local courts to get evidence regarding alleged kickbacks in the deal. Kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were allegedly paid to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.
The sources said the joint team of the CBI and defence ministry in Italy was told that the probe in that country was also in its initial stage and that arrests made in that country so far were more of a preventive nature so that the evidence was not tampered with.
Italian authorities have arrested Giuseppe Orsi, the chairman of Italian Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, chief executive officer of AgustaWestland.
The team, which comprises a legal officer from the CBI as well, is likely to soon meet the judge hearing the matter in connection with the alleged kickbacks.
The joint team comprising a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a joint secretary level officer of the ministry and an official of the external affairs ministry has been camping in Milan to gather as many inputs as possible.
The two law firms have been appointed keeping in mind their work in international cases. The Chiomenti law firm was established in 1948 and has 270 attorneys in six countries including in London. The Grippo law firm with 360 attorneys has a presence in five countries including the United Kingdom.
The CBI's decision to send a team to Italy came after it virtually drew a blank from the defence ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged the kickbacks.
The CBI was handed over a letter from the defence ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which, the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case.
This was followed by the CBI seeking help from the Interpol, which also expressed its inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, they said.