Bribery allegations around helicopter company linked to Ornge



TORONTO - The Ornge scandal just got juicier.

A Reuters report says that executives with an Italian company involved in the controversial sale of helicopters to the Ontario air ambulance service are facing allegations of bribery in an Indian deal.

Health Minister Deb Matthews said she's aware of the media report but won't comment on the allegations at this time.

"All I can say is that the OPP is investigating the circumstances around Ornge here in Ontario," Matthews said Tuesday. "It's important that they be allowed to do their work unobstructed by any political involvement ... I'll just let the OPP do their work."

Senior executives with AugustaWestland and its parent company were accused of paying bribes to Indian officials through intermediaries to secure the sale of 12 helicopters.

Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter's investigation of Ornge focused in part on an agreement to purchase 12 helicopters from the European firm which in turn made a $2.9 million payment to Ornge's charitable foundation, and another $4.8 million for future "marketing and other services."

Matthews called in the OPP after financial irregularities at Ornge came to light.

-- With files by Reuters

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