CBI registers case against Rolls Royce, govt officials and arms dealers for alleged corruption in Hawk aircraft deal

MoU signed with UK in 2004 for procuring Hawk aircraft and for technology transfer

Hawk trainer aircraft Representational image | Website of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered an FIR against Rolls Royce, its director in India, 'unknown' government servants and arms dealers allegedly for corruption in the procurement of Hawk aircraft from the British aerospace company.

According to reports, the case has been registered for alleged kickbacks in the procurement of Hawk 115 Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force and Navy, officials said.

As per the FIR, CBI names Tim Jones, Director Rolls Royce India, alleged arms dealers Sudhir Choudhrie and Bhanu Choudhrie, Rolls Royce Plc, British Aerospace Systems and unknown public servants and private persons as accused in the case.

ANI quoting CBI reported, “The unknown public servants abused their official positions as public servants and approved and procured a total number of 24 Hawk 115 Advance Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft for GBP 734.21 million, besides permitting licence manufacturing of 42 additional aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) against materials supplied by the said manufacturer for an additional amount of $308.247 million for the said 42 License Manufactured aircraft and $7.5 million towards Manufacturer's Licence Fee, in lieu of huge bribes, commissions and kickbacks paid by the said manufacturer and its officers to intermediaries.”

The case has been registered under IPC section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act after completing a six-year-old preliminary enquiry. A British court order in 2017 also mentioned the alleged involvement of middlemen and payment of commission by the company for swinging the deal, they said.

The agency charged the accused with abuse of official position, criminal conspiracy, cheating, obtaining undue advantage to induce a public servant, causing disappearance of evidence, taking gratification, for personal influence with public servant.

The CBI enquiry showed that vital documents pertaining to the transaction were seized from Rolls Royce India office during a survey conducted by the Income Tax department in 2006-07 but the accused persons destroyed and removed the documents to evade investigation, it alleged.

In 2012, media reports alleging corruption in the Rolls Royce operations surfaced resulting in an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, London.

The company prepared a Statement of Fact that disclosed its corrupt payments in connection with transactions with countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and India. A deferred prosecution agreement was reached between the company and SFO.

The Statement of Fact was cited in a judgment by Crown Court Southwark, UK which showed that a sum of GBP 1.85 million was paid to an intermediary to retrieve the list of middlemen seized by the Income Tax Department during a survey of Rolls Royce India during 2006 to prevent the list falling into the hands of Defence Ministry which could have resulted in the termination of the contract and a CBI probe.

The CBI also alleged that GBP 100 million were paid by Russian Arms companies into a Swiss account in the name of Portsmouth, a company associated with Sudhi Choudhrie for defence deals with Russia for the purchase of MIG aircraft.

"Out of this amount, the companies in the name of Choudhrie's family namely Belinea Services Ltd, Cottage Consultants Ltd and Carter Consultants Inc. received GBP 39.2 million, GBP 32.8 million and GBP 23 million respectively between October 2007 and October 2008," the FIR alleged.

It said Sudhir Choudhrie and his father Bhanu Choudhrie are alleged to be unregistered Indian agents and middlemen who worked for Rolls Royce and BAES in securing the award of contract for the supply of Hawk aircraft in question and used "undue influence on Indian public servants to induce the Government of India to approve the deal," it alleged.

(With PTI inputs.)


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