HAPPENINGS OF THE SCAMThe Scorpene submarine scandal is once again a black mark to India which involves a bribery of about Rs. 500 crores which has been reportedly said to be paid to the deciding authorities of the government by Thales, a French based company who were the makers of the Scorpene submarine. In the year 2005 in the month of October the submarine contract worth Rs 19,000 crores was approved by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee with Thales. In the history of India, the Scorpene deal scam is supposed to be one of the largest bribery corruption scandals of India. It is reported that nearly 500 crores was given as bribery to the decision maker representing the Indian government by the French Company Thales.
HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY WAS TRANSFERREDThis huge amount of money was transferred through middlemen like Abhishek Verma and Ravi Shankaran, a relative of the then chief of navy staff Arun Prakash. In fact in later reports it was evident that Abhishek Verma was one of the main accused in the navy war room spy scandal and was selling defence documents to the Thales. It is now said that Scorpene submarines are now built in India itself which in fact was a part of the contract permitting for a technology transfer agreement. It is stated that the problem started to be exposed with the investigation of Saikat Datta in the naval war room leak case and his decision of the hurried dismissal of three naval officers even without the consent of the court martial and in fact the actual beneficiaries of this were the civilians on whom no action was taken against. This swift handling of the case by Saikat Datta gave way for deep doubts and the real fact was revealed that K.B. Parashar, whose pen-drive had blown the lid off the leaks from the Naval war room, and Ravi Shankaran were key players in the secret plan to work against law.
MAIN ACCUSED OF THE SCORPENE SUBMARINE SCAMOne of the main accused of the Scorpene submarine scam deal Ravi Shankaran happened to be the nephew of the Naval Chief Arun Prakash's wife. During the investigation reports say that there were number of calls which was exchanged between the Naval Chief and his relation Ravi Shankar regarding the probe of the investigation. The next comprehensive understanding was decisive or critical part of the secret information leaked in the war room case related to Project 75, the navy's submarine procurement programme. This led to the assembly of the jigsaw puzzles with a few more parts into its right place and resulted in the answer showing that the two arms dealers were actually middlemen in helping clear a submarine deal that was stuck for years. Though there was a very clear image of the happenings, Pranab Mukherjee, the then Defence Minister of the country did not agree the fact but instead kept calling it as "commercial information". However a week later Pranab Mukherjee reconsidered his stand in the light of further evidence and handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
OBJECTION FROM VARIOUS QUARTERS REGARDING THE SCORPENE SUBMARINE SCAMSimilarly there were lots of objection from various quarters regarding the Scorpene submarine scam deal. In the year 2002 there were lot of questions put forth by N. Vittal, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner regarding the deal stating strong, that how can it be a single tender deal without a competitive behest order. However the investigation on the Scorpene submarine deal was not really working the right way but instead the push was very slow. A petition on Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Delhi High Court in 2007 by Prashant Bhushan who is in charge of the central Public Interest Litigation to further kickbacks in the Scorpene submarine deal. In fact Thales proved to be wrong to the charges, with its country director in India, Francois Dupont, saying, "The e-mails are forgeries and we have sued the news magazine for this." Once the preliminary investigations were over in 2008, the Central Bureau of Investigation told the Delhi High Court that there was no evidence of payment of kickbacks in the Rs 14.35 billion deal.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS IN THE SCORPENE SUBMARINE DEAL SCAMIn the year 2005 the Rs 19,000 Crores Scorpene submarine deal was approved by the then Defense minister Pranab Mukherjee with a French Company Thales. - In 2005, A. K. Antony entered the Rajya Sabha and was inducted into the Union Council of Ministers as Defence Minister following Natwar Singh's expulsion from the Congress and Pranab Mukherjee's transfer to the Ministry of External Affairs - Following this India signed one of its biggest ever arms purchase contracts to purchase six Scorpene submarines from Thales. Though the contract was signed in the year 2005 India will get the first submarine from Thales in the year 2015. There was simultaneous procurement of the submarines by the Malaysian government too and reports from various media stated that there was an illicit payment made by the Malaysian government for this deal, but in spite of it there was a delay in transfer of technology to Malaysia and submarines also.
PROBING OF THE CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
During the probing of the Central Bureau of Investigation there were nearly 4 emails which kind of revealed the deal related to the Scorpene Submarine deal. One mentioned an e-mail from Jean Paul Perrier, CEO of Thales, to Abhishek Verma, a businessman who has been previously named by the Central Bureau of investigation and Enforcement Directorate in several cases of financial fraud. While on the subject, he is the one who revealed the name of Vincent George, private secretary to Sonia Gandhi, in a case of amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income, which is still pending with the CBI. Further details from the outlook revealed Jean Paul Perrier, the Chief Executive Officer in a draft to Abhishek Verma stated that 'We confirm the payment of 4 per cent of the Scorpene contract price,' and if this proves true then it is quite clear that the payment made is over Rs 500 Crores. The Central Bureau of Investigation also stated that the War Room leak case had some interconnection with the Scorpene Submarine deal scam were they shared something related to each other. Though the investigations were taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation on February 18, 2006 they were quite inactive and not even a preparatory round of enquiry was made until December 20, 2007.
THE INFORMATION RELATED TO FLEET ACQUISITION PLANS
On May 2005, naval officers posted in the Operations Directorate of Naval Headquarters were found trading off classified information of a commercial nature. The information related to fleet acquisition plans. The inquiry led by the Naval Board caught hold of three officers on grounds of proving guilty regarding the letting of secret information in exchange of bribes and favors. The Naval officers involved in this were Captain Kashyap Kumar and Commanders Virendra Rana and V K Jha. On October 2005, the above mentioned four naval officers were dismissed from their holdings in Navy on grounds of compromising the security of classified information and jeopardizing the interests of the state. Also once the scam was kind of revealed to the public the Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash voluntarily came forward to resign from his holding because of the involvement of his wife's nephew, Ravi Shankaran.
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