FRAME OF BOFORSThe Bofors scandal is supposed to be stamping on the Indian Political corruption. The scandal is all about when the Indian Defense Ministry had to buy Howitzers for its army's artillery units in March 1986 from AB Bofors, Swedish manufacturer which was worth Rs.1,500 crores ($285 million). According to a Swedish Radio broadcast in 1987, it was reported that an illicit payment was made to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and other top Indian politicians for selling artillery guns to the Indian Army. It was also said that Ottavio Quattrrocchi who had a close friendly proximity to Gandhi family was behind all the transactions that happened regarding the Bofors scandal. Ottavio Quattrrocchi was an Italian businessman who represented the Italian petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti. But however when this news was flashed up the Rajiv Gandhi-led government strictly denied the report.
INDIAN GOVERNMENT DECIDED TO REPLACE THE OLD FIELD GUNSChain Roop Bhansali belonged to a very common middle class jute trader's family in Kolkata. He had a degree in Commerce and in the year 1980 he completed his Chartered Accountancy. It was at the time of his completion of Chartered Accountancy he also ventured into his financial consultancy firm, named 'CRB Consultancy'. Because Bhansali had lot of personal contacts with people in various field he was very quickly and successfully able to get business of providing issue management services to a few well-known and reputed companies in Kolkata. The name CRB consultancy was changed to CRB Capital Markets and became a public limited company in the year 1992. The CRB capital market did very well in various fields and rendered good service in various fields like merchant banking, leasing and hire purchase, bill discounting and corporate funds management, fixed deposit and resources mobilization, mutual funds and asset management, international finance and forex operations. In a very short span of time he raised an extremely good amount of money. CRB Corporation Ltd., raised Rs.84 crores through three public issues between May 1993 and December 1995.
ARIHANT MANGAL GROWTH SCHEMEBut in spite of the prompt denial Chitra Subramaniam, senior Hindu correspondent further went into the Bofors scandal investigation which disclosed that Rs 65 crores was paid to get the deal done. The nature of the Bofors scandal was that in 1980 the Indian Government decided to replace the old field guns and artillery in the hands of the Army. So the Government decided to go ahead and buy howitzers of bigger caliber of 155 mm and this was manufactured by AB Bofors in Sweden which was initially owned by the great Alfred Nobel. Based on this decision a deal was signed between India and Swedish metals and armaments major on March 24th, 1986 saying that AB Bofors would supply the Indian Army with 410 155-mm howitzers. The deal also had an option of buying 1000 more guns of similar kind. The money involved in the buying of the Bofors gun was about $285 million (about Rs 1500 crores) for a pre-liberalisation India. As further investigation was made on the Bofors scandal by Chitra Subramaniam lot of incriminating files got piled up on her desk and it was a very shocking news to know that nearly 64 crores were paid to the top notches and powerful people of Indian politics.
GOVERNMENT STRICTLY BARRED FURTHER BUSINESS CONTRACTThe 1989 Parliamentary polling election came as a major drawback and the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress lost the election and for further complications to be avoided the then selected Prime Minister V.P. Singh and his Government strictly barred further business contract with AB Bofors and by chance V.P. Singh was the Defense Minister at the time when the contract was signed. However a first official complaint was filed by the CBI on January 22, 1990. Though investigation was getting its way , unfortunately the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE suicide bombers in 1991 further reduced the intensity of the investigation which also led the Italian Businessman Quattrocchi to leave India in the end of July, 1993. Nearly after 6-7 years of complicated dispute and several legal procedures it was on January 21, 1997 a document was submitted to the Indian Government from the Swiss authorities and this led to further investigation by the CBI.
INVESTIGATION REPORTS ENDED UP BY FILLING CHARGE SHEETSThe investigation reports ended up by filing charge sheets against late Rajiv Gandhi, Ottavio Quattrocchi, AB Bofors and its former chief Martin Ardbo, defense secretary SK Bhatnagar and AB Bofors agent Win Chadha. Also official letters were sent to the Malaysian and UAE Government to help in the arrest of Quattrocchi and by the end of 2000, the Malaysian Government was successful in arresting Quattrocchi who secured a bail and was asked not go out of the country. There was also another new name coming up in the Bofors scandal and they were the UK-based Hinduja brothers who told that the funds received by them from AB Bofors had nothing to do with the Howitzer order. Former defense Secretary Bhatnagar and Win Chadha who had charge sheet against them passed away in 2001 and by 2004 another major accused former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi was also pronounced not guilty by the Delhi High Court. By 2007 the case to a major extent lost its steam and Quattrocchi was held up in Argentina on an Interpol lookout notice. The case lost steam thereafter though on February 6, 2007, Quattrocchi was held up in Argentina on an international intelligence agency lookout notice.
The former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was accused for it is believed that he was illegally bribed by the AB Bofors and a Swiss Magazine named Schweitzer Illustrate stated that Rajiv Gandhi owns about $2 billion in Swiss Bank and now it is inherited by his wife Sonia Gandhi.
It was also said that Ottavio Quattrrocchi who had a close friendly proximity to the Gandhi family in the 1980's was behind all the transactions that happened regarding the Bofors scandal. Ottavio Quattrrocchi was an Italian businessman who represented the Italian petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti.
SK Bhatanagar the then Defense secretary had a major role in Bofors Scam for he was working on the price negotiation through which Bofors bagged the contract. The charge sheet against him was that he was misusing his official position to pitch the scales in favour of the Swedish firm. He was given two extensions in office by Gandhi before he retired in 1989 and was made governor of Sikkim. Thus SK Bhatnagar played a key role in Bofors scam and passed away in 2001 at the age of 71.
This includes Shrichand Hinduja, Gopichand Hinduja and Prakash Hinduja. Later Hindujas donated 1 million to Harvard and Rahul Gandhi got admission there under the donor's quota.
A Dubai-based businessman and arms agent named as one of the key accused in the scandal died in October 2001, days before a court was to give its verdict on his application to visit his family in the Gulf country. A former agent of Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors, Chadha was accused of receiving kickbacks in the Rs.14.37 billion deal signed in March 1986 for the supply of 400 155mm Howitzer field guns to India. He was extradited to India from Dubai in March 2000. He was given bail but was asked not to leave the country.
Martin Karl Ardbo
Martin Karl Ardbo was the former AB Bofors president who died in Sweden at the age of 77 because of cancer. It was from his diary that the names of the other accused like Olaf Palme, the Hinduja brothers and Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi were got. He was a former Swedish naval officer.
QUATTROCCHI WAS HELD UP IN ARGENTINA
The case lost steam thereafter though on February 6, 2007, Quattrocchi was held up in Argentina on an international intelligence agency lookout notice. But the Indian Government seeking his repatriation did not back up the deportation request with details of a key court order which was turned down by the Argentinian Supreme Court. This very obviously showed that it was intentionally done. By 2009 the Indian Government decided to withdraw the case against Quattrocchi and informed this decision to the Supreme Court and the reason given for this decision was that Quattrocchi cannot be repatriated. An Income tax committee came up in the year 2011 stating that during the gun deal a commission of over Rs 40 crores was bribed to Quattrochi and Chadha. But again on March 4th, 2011 the Delhi High Court understanding the pointlessness asked the CBI to clear all cases against Quattrochhi and to close the case. However there was a sudden jolt to the Congress party when Swedish police Chief Sten Lindstrom disclosed that he was the main source of information to the Hindu correspondent Chitra Subramaniam.
GREAT SPYMASTER OF INDIA
Though CBI was doing their work,but they were not able to proceed because there was lot of interference from the Government side. But however a great spymaster of India, B.Raman made it evident how Rajiv Gandhi tried in not exposing the truth. Rajiv Gandhi mounted a cover-up operation and personally got involved in an attempt to prevent people from discovering the truth about his crime or a false front. He also supported officials and others close to him to create pin-pricks for V. P. Singh, who was in the cutting edge of those against a facade. At the instance of Rajiv Gandhi, a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chaired by B Shankaranand, a Congress (I) MP, had been set up to pose questions into the declaration of the commission payments. The team also had to do investigations in Geneva and London. This team of members cunningly did not meet those who knew more details about the payments but instead met all those who had very little awareness of the Bofors payments. This eye wash was done by Rajiv Gandhi with the aid of few officers who were working at the Prime Ministers offices and few others from the Intelligence Agencies, states a media report..
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