With BBC Panaroma revealing that Rolls Royce may have made secret payments of around 10 million pounds to companies linked to arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, a report in the Economic Times has suggested that several other companies associated with his son and a close relative have received over hundred million dollars from Russian arms companies in 2007-08.
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London-based Choudhrie, who has been listed as one of the “undesirable” middlemen by the Central Bureau of Investigation, is being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate for his alleged role in various artillery gun contracts and the Barak missile scandal.
According to ET, a confidential report commissioned by Credit Suisse stated that the Choudhrie “family group” had 18 accounts in the bank, held jointly or individually in the names of Choudhrie’s son, Bhanu Choudhrie and his cousin Aman Chopra. The report further discloses the Russian defence firms that have made the payments and they include MiG Corp, Rosoboronexport and NPO.
Although the Credit Suisse report does not directly link payments to any specific defence deal in India, it pointed out that payments are “incoming funds from clients’ offset business”, the ET report said. Interestingly, an Italian court, while giving the judgement, had declared that part of the payment to middlemen were described as offset payments in the AugustaWestland chopper deal.
The above mentioned defence firms assume great significance for Indian military as all defence deals with Russia are routed through Rosoboronexport while MiG Corporation plays a key role in strengthening the Indian Air Force by providing MiG fighter jets. According to ET, India had decided to purchase 29 MiG 29K fighters for a deal worth 1.2 billion dollars.
The report also alleges the presence of Choudhrie family business operations in offshore tax havens such as British Virgin Islands, Panama and Seychelles.
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