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Helicopter scandal hangs over Cameron's India visit

Published on Feb 18, 2013 5:56 AM
British Prime Minister David Cameron waits outside Number10 Downing street in London on February 11, 2013 for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Cameron claimed victory in his battle to slash the EU budget on February 8, saying marathon talks proved that his promise of a referendum on EU membership had not left Britain isolated. The prime minister was due to make a statement to members in the House of Commons in London on February 11 following his return from the EU summit in Brussels. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in India's financial hub Mumbai on Monday on a three-day trade-focused visit clouded by a corruption scandal over British-made helicopters sold to New Delhi.

Mr Cameron's trip comes amid a raging scandal over the procurement of 12 helicopters for use by VIPs in 2010, which were bought for $748 million (S$925.8 million) from Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

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 - the helicopters are being manufactured in southwest Britain - with the Indian government keen to be seen to be acting tough on a new graft scandal.

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