Cameron backs AgustaWestland despite Indian bribery scandal

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Cameron threw his weight behind UK helicopter maker AgustaWestland on a trip to India yesterday despite the company being engulfed in a corruption scandal in the country.

Making his second visit to drum up business in India, the Prime Minister promised to revive Indian interest in the Eurofighter, which is partly made in Britain, even though New Delhi has chosen a French-made rival.

Mr Cameron, whose delegation includes representatives of more than 100 companies, added that the issue of whether bribes were paid to win a contract was a question for India and Westland's owner, the Italian company Finmeccanica.

Speaking in Mumbai, he said: "AgustaWestland is an excellent company, with highly skilled workers who make brilliant helicopters. Britain has ... some of the toughest laws in the world, so people know if they do business with British companies, they have protections."

He added that it was for the UK's Serious Fraud Office to decide whether to look into the claims.

India said on Friday that it wanted to cancel a $750m (£484m) deal for a dozen AgustaWestland helicopters because of the bribery claims.

Italian authorities announced an investigation a year ago, amid rumours that irregular payments were used to secure the contract. Finmeccanica has always denied any wrongdoing.