India undecided on cancelling VVIP chopper deal: Antony

The Indian government has not taken a decision yet on cancelling the deal for 12 helicopters with AgustaWestland, defence minister A K Antony told the Rajya Sabha today.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is looking into the $770 million (Rs4,700 crore) deal after Italian investigators said kickbacks were paid to secure the deal.

Anthony has earlier said he does not believe AgustaWestland's denial of paying bribes to swing the deal for the purchase of the helicopters, earmarked for top politicians.

"While the operation of the contract for procurement of 12 VVIP / VIP helicopters has been put on hold, no decision has been taken so far to cancel the contract," Antony said in a written reply to the upper house of parliament.

He said the CBI has registered cases against the AgustaWestland, Italian supplier Finmeccanica, and four other companies, but investigations are still in progress.

AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica, says the deal must go into arbitration.

The company had allegedly paid kickbacks of over Rs300 crore, and the CBI registered a case on 12 March.