Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday admitted that "somebody has taken money" in the AgustaWestland chopper deal that is mired by bribery allegations.
As the Central Bureau of Investigation probes the bribery allegations into the controversial Rs 3,600 crore deal for the supply of VVIP choppers by the Anglo-Italian firm, Antony vowed that no mercy would be shown to anyone who has taken bribes. It is alleged that the deal involved Rs 362 crore in kickbacks.
"My commitment to Parliament stands. I do feel somebody has taken the money. The enquiry is at a crucial stage. We will not show mercy to anybody and will take action, however powerful the person who took the bribe or acted against the integrity pact may be," he told reporters when asked about the AgustaWestland deal.
"Please wait for some more time. Very strict action would be taken against those involved," he said, adding that CBI is pursuing the matter.
CBI, the lead probe agency in the case, had received some crucial documents from the defence ministry and Italy in connection with the deal. The documents, carrying details of the money trail, have been shared with the Enforcement Directorate.
The agency has already registered a Preliminary Enquiry against 11 people, including former Indian Air Force chief S P Tyagi, his three cousins, European middlemen and four companies.
All the suspects have refuted the allegations.
In its PE, registered to probe alleged kickbacks in the 12 AW-101 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland deal, the CBI is looking into the role of some middlemen suspected to have influenced the deal in favour of the Italian company.
The agency suspects that a portion of the Rs 362 crore bribe was allegedly routed to Indian nationals, through Tunisia and Mauritius, camouflaged as payments for engineering contracts to Chandigarh-based firms IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix. Both companies have denied involvement in the bribery scandal.
The CBI is likely to send judicial requests to the United Kingdom, Italy, Mauritius and Tunisia, seeking information about financial transactions carried out by the accused in the deal.