Ukraine is investigating alleged kickbacks to the tune of $2.6 million (Rs 17.55 crore) in India’s purchase of spares for military transport aircraft An-32 in which its Anti-Corruption Bureau suspects the involvement of Indian Defence Ministry officials.
On February 13, this year, according to records accessed by The Indian Express, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NAB) sent a “request for international legal assistance” to the Ministry of Home Affairs via the Indian envoy in Kiev. This sought identification of the Defence Ministry officials who participated in the negotiations, development, signing and implementation of the contract.
The NAB’s suspicion, records show, stems from the fact that nearly 11 months after Ukrainian state-run Spetstechnoexport signed the agreement with Ministry of Defence (Air Force Headquarters) on November 26, 2014 for supply of spares to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Spetstechnoexport signed another pact with a little-known Global Marketing SP Ltd for its implementation.
“Despite the fact that the Ukraine alleges 17.5-cr kickbacks to MoD officials, asks India for help terms of the agreement had not been actually fulfilled, the parties signed statements of completion whereupon Spetstechnoexport transferred $2.6 million of budget funds to the account of Global Marketing opened in the UAE,” wrote the Chief Unit of Detectives of the NAB.
Since the second agreement was not called for given that both sides had already sealed the main deal in November 2014, the NAB suspects that the Indian defence officials “might be witness of the above circumstances” in which Spetstechnoexport signed the second agreement with Global Marketing on August 13, 2015.
The NAB has sought information, among others, on the involvement of Global Marketing in the “conclusion and/or implementation of the contract”; contacts, if any, between defence ministry officials with Global Marketing’s representatives; factors that influenced the “timeliness and completeness of payments”; and, Global Marketing’s involvement in the signing of “supplementary agreements”.
Parallely, it has also written to Noor Islamic Bank in Dubai to provide information about the movement of funds between August 2015 and January 2018 from Global Marketing’s account as well as details of IP addresses from which the said account was accessed.
The Indian Express sent emails to NAB official D Lytvynenko on April 13 and April 16 and a phone call to him on April 27 but no comment was received.
The Indian Express sent a message to the MoD spokesperson who was unavailable for comment.
A district court in Ukrainian capital Kiev authorised the pre-trial investigation agency NAB in December 2017 to determine the further movement of funds received by Global Marketing, identify the persons involved in the said crime and determine their financial relations with officials of Spetstechnoexport.
The Soviet-origin An-32 aircraft are the transport workhorse of the Indian Air Force and are vital to maintaining and supplying troops in the eastern and northern borders. The Cold War-era product has become the aircraft-on-call for all IAF transport, disaster-relief and special operations missions.