Court okays AgustaWestland's right as 'preferred bidder' in AFM helicopter bid

Civil Court orders contracts department to adjudicate €58 million AFM helicopter contract to Italian avionics manufacturer AgustaWestland SpA.

AgustaWestland won a €58 million contract for the procurement of three helicopters to the Armed Forces, after Eurocopter contested the bid in court.
AgustaWestland won a €58 million contract for the procurement of three helicopters to the Armed Forces, after Eurocopter contested the bid in court.

AgustaWestland SpA has won its right to be adjudicated the €58 million contract for the procurement of up to three helicopters for the Armed Forces, after a Court formally dismissed a complaint on irregularities filed by its French rival Eurocopter SAS.

The contract had been put on hold on March 3, on the strength of a decree issued by Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon, who initially upheld a request for a prohibitory injunction by Eurocopter, who pointed out what it described as "anomalous" and "unlawful" changes in the specifications of the tender, to suit rival bidder AgustaWestland SpA, a subsidiary of the Italian firm Finmeccanica.

Only Eurocopter and AugustaWestland bid for the AFM tender which was issued last September, 75% of which will be financed by the European Union's border control budget.

But Eurocopter was informed that they were being "administratively disqualified" from the process, on the basis that their objection to the changes did not go through the right channels of redress, and that their submission was technically wrong because the financial package was included in two CDs and not in one.

Eurocopter initiated legal proceedings against the Maltese government seeking redress for their omission from the tender process, and will be filing for damages in the days to come.

The acquisition of the helicopter is only a part of a wider project undertaken by the AFM with the assistance of the EU's External Borders Fund (EBF) aimed at enhancing Malta's (and the EU's) border control capabilities and operational efficiency.

The Armed Forces refuted every allegation made by Eurocopter SAS, saying that the French bid was administratively non-compliant, and did not respect legally established procedures, their submission was disqualified."

Eurocopter filed an objection on 28 December 2012, but its disqualification was upheld by the Public Contracts Review Board during a public hearing on 29th January 2013.

"In brief, the Public Contracts Review Board disqualified Eurocopter SAS, as contrary to established procedures and processes established at law, Eurocopter SAS included the financial offer with the administrative and technical package; something which is legally inadmissible in a three package procedure followed during the selection process," the AFM said.

Eurocopter attempted a further procedure on 6 February 2013, but this was also repealed by the Public Contracts Review Board on 11 February 2013.

In the protest, filed by representative company Viroc Limited, AgustaWestland denied any irregularities during the process, and claims of unfair disadvantage made by Eurocopter.

The Army should NOT be trusted on this matter. All contracts should be stopped and thoroughly reexamined. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TRUST GONZIPN, not even with manure!