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India formally lifts ban on AgustaWestland & Leonardo, both can now bid for defence projects

Leonardo has given a letter withdrawing its claims of 350 million Euros for the cancelled order of the VVIP choppers.

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New Delhi: India has formally lifted the ban on Italian firm AgustaWestland and its parent company Leonardo, paving the way for them to take part in the multiple ongoing projects and bid for upcoming defence contracts. 

A new notification dated 12 November, issued by the Defence Ministry with a list of firms debarred/put on hold/suspended from doing business with it, does not name both the Italian companies that were banned in 2014 by then Congress-led UPA government over allegations of kickbacks in the VVIP chopper scam.

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that Leonardo has given a letter withdrawing its claims on 350 million Euros for the cancelled order of the VVIP choppers.

They added that the lifting of the ban will allow Leonardo, earlier known as Finmeccanica, to participate in the Project 75 of the Indian Navy, under which six Scorpene submarines are being built. 

The submarines, four of which have been delivered to the Navy, do not have the heavyweight torpedoes that were to be procured from Leonardo.

This acquisition got hit as the Italian firm was blacklisted and there was no leeway.

Firm can now take part in tenders

The lifting of the ban also ensures that Leonardo will be able to take part in upcoming Naval tenders for the new radars and turrets for its warships, sources said.

Sources said that multiple extensions of suspension of business dealing with Leonardo were given since 2014 and the last was to expire by this month end.

According to the government decision, while the ban would be lifted, the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate would continue into the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper scam.

The ban in 2014 had led to the company’s exclusion from a large number of defence projects where it had products to compete with others including multiple naval helicopters deals. 

The company had also gone through a global re-branding exercise and changed its name from the scam-tainted Finmeccanica to Leonardo in 2016.

Headquartered in Italy, Leonardo products and solutions are used in over 150 countries worldwide. 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Russian S-400 air defence systems begin arriving in India, US threat of CAATSA sanctions looms


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