On the day the CBI questioned former IAF chief S P Tyagi over his alleged links to middlemen in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal, the government announced it had deferred a decision on increase in FDI in AgustaWestland’s joint venture with Tata Sons to assemble helicopters in India.
According to The Indian Express, Agusta Westland had Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to start a joint venture facility with Tata Sons, called Indian Rotorcraft Ltd (IRL), for assembly of AW-199Kx helicopters in Hyderabad Aviation Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
It was one of the five proposals deferred on the recommendations of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) which met on April 8. No other reason was cited by the government. The Milan court verdict, handing prison terms to former chiefs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland, came on April 7.
While the joint venture is yet to begin operations, the assembled helicopters were to be exported to the Italian company for sale to customers. The IRL had also told The Indian Express that this venture had no connection to the IAF purchase of AW101 helicopters, now at the centre of a political row with the deal being probed by Indian agencies following allegations of payoffs.