Seeking to contain damage arising out of the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal, government asked the Italian firm Finmeccanica to state whether any money was illegally paid to any Indian entity or individual coupled with a warning of blacklisting it.
Under attack over alleged payment of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore in the Rs 3,600 crore deal, the defence ministry also threatened to take legal action, including cancellation of the contract and recovery of money paid for the deal if it was proved that bribes have been paid.
As charges flew thick and fast and BJP targeted the government demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe, one of its leaders and former Defence Minister Jaswant Singh came to the rescue of former Air Chief S P Tyagi saying allegations should not be made before truth is known.
Italian prosecutors have told a court that three cousins of Tyagi have been paid bribes to the tune of Rs 72 lakh to get the requisite specifications for the tender changed through the then Air Chief Marshal. One of them cousins, Sanjeev Tyagi outright rejected the charge as "absolutely baseless".
Through the change in specifications, AgustaWestland's helicopter AW-101 became eligible to participate in the bid for 12 helicopters.
Issuing a fact-sheet of the sequence of events involved in the deal clinched in 2010, the defence ministry noted that the mandatory technical requirements of the chopper were changed in the tender during the Vajpayee government in 2003, with the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra playing a key role.
Seeking to show determination to act in a tough manner, the minister said the CEO of AgustaWestland has been asked to "categorically state the clear position in view of the current developments indicating specifically if any financial transaction has taken place with any Indian individual/entity which would be violative of the Integrity Pact or any other terms and conditions of the contract."