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HeliTorque :: View topic - Investigation underway into Soteria SAR-H bid
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HeliTorque Forum Index » EMS, SAR & Law Enforcement

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Investigation underway into Soteria SAR-H bid
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:02 am    Post subject: Investigation underway into Soteria SAR-H bid Reply with quote

Investigation underway into Soteria SAR-H bid
January 28, 2011

An investigation is underway into alleged improper conduct over the Soteria consortium’s bid for a multi-billion pound contract to provide the UK a new modern fleet of SAR helicopters.

The deal is reportedly on the verge of collapse amid concerns that Soteria, the preferred bidder for the contract, may have been provided with information during the competitive tender process from someone inside the government’s project team.

Furthermore, it's been confirmed to Rotorhub.com that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) pulled out of the consortium before Christmas but has refused to comment further on the reasons why.

If a breach of the rules governing such deals is identified, or if the consortium is no longer in a position to fulfil its obligations to the programme, it’s likely the government will have to retender the contract or scrap it altogether.

This could cause wide-scale reverberations around the military helicopter community as it may force the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to extend the life of its fleet of search and rescue Sea King helicopters, which are due to exit service at the end of 2016.

Soteria, a consortium of CHC, Thales and RBS, was chosen as preferred bidder for the SAR-H programme to harmonise the UK fleet of search and rescue helicopters in February 2010.

However, the project, which has been variously quoted as costing £4.6 billion to £6 billion, was put on ice in June as it came under review by the new coalition government.

A planned December announcement regarding the programme was delayed when Soteria raised a concern with the Department for Transport, stating it had 'become aware of a potential issue'.

Both government departments involved in the project have confirmed an investigation is ongoing but would not to comment on any specific aspects at issue.

In a statement to the Financial Times, Soteria said while RBS had withdrawn as a shareholder, the other members of the consortium remained ‘committed to Soteria and the SAR-H Project and are continuing to work with the procuring authority to deliver an essential search and rescue service for the people of the UK’.

By Tony Osborne, London
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