A top executive and board member of one of the leading armament corporations in the world has been summoned by a special court here that is hearing a case relating to alleged payments by the company to a middleman for getting it off a government blacklist for defence deals.
Indicating that the case relating to Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) hiring arms dealer Abhishek Verma in 2011 to ensure its name is taken off the banned list can go up to the very top,the special court has ordered that executive board member of the group Bodo Garbe as well as its India head Gerhard Hoy should be summoned at the earliest.
Both the top executives of RAD a major arms manufacturer that had annual sales of Euro 2.3 billion last year have till now not been served a notice as correspondence sent to their last known address has been returned. The special court has now ordered that fresh summons be issued to the two executives through diplomatic process to expedite the case.
While in the past only Hoy had been served notices for appearance,the inclusion of Garbes name in the summons has escalated the scale of the investigation that revolves around the payment of over US$5,30,000 by the company to arms dealer Abhishek Verma to get its name off a banned list of defence companies in India. Before joining the executive board of RAD in 2011,Garbe was heading the Air Defence division of the company.
The allegations came to light early last year after Vermas former escrow agent C Edmonds Allen sent a formal complaint to Indian officials. A CBI chargesheet into the case says the money was paid by RAD to Vermas company Ganton USA in January 2011 and was meant to bribe officials to get it off the blacklist.
RAD was one of the frontrunners to provide new anti-aircraft guns to the Army before all contracts and deals with it were frozen in 2009. It was recommended for blacklisting on allegations that the foreign firm gave kickbacks to a former Director General Ordnance Factories (DGOF).
Earlier this month,the CAG too had come down heavily against RAD and a top bureaucrat of the Defence Ministry,saying that rules were bent to award a Rs 500 crore contract to the tainted defence firm. The CAG has blamed IAS officer Satyajeet Rajan,who served as the Joint Secretary (Electronic Systems) in the Defence Ministry between 2007-12 for giving permissions to public sector unit BEL to strike a multi-crore deal with the tainted company despite a CBI recommendation for it to be blacklisted.