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Cameron likely to face grilling over copter scam news
18 February 2013

British Prime Minister David Cameron's India visit may have been aimed at drumming up business as usual; but due to the controversy over the helicopter deal with Italian defence contractor Finmeccanica, it is likely to be more newsy than, say, the visit of French President Francois Hollande last week.

This is because AgustaWestland, the manufacturer from which the defence ministry contracted to buy 12 helicopters for VIP transport, is a UK-Italian venture. The three AgustaWestland AW-101 copters already delivered to India as part of a Rs3,600 crore deal were manufactured in southwest England.

Cameron is bound to face questions on the issue, even though the British connection with any bribes paid by Finmeccanica to secure the deal seems tenuous.

After an investigation in Italy suggested kickbacks were paid via middlemen to secure the deal, India has taken steps to cancel the contract and has started its own police investigation.

The British prime minister is likely to face further questions about the contract, with the Indian government desperate to be seen as acting tough on yet another graft scandal.

"We did ask (Britain) in November and they said that since the Italians are investigating let us await the outcome," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told AFP.

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Cameron likely to face grilling over copter scam