25 yrs after Bofors, middlemen continue to make merry

Bhushan, Kejriwal release incriminating documents on defence deals

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | April 26, 2012



Twenty-five years after the Bofors revelation, little has changed in the shady world of defence deals, where a well oiled and entrenched system of commission and middlemen continue to dictate government decisions, Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan said on Thursday.

Though middlemen or agents were banned in defence deals after the Bofors scam, it appears “there are several agents like Abhishek Verma, the prime accused in the navy war room leak case, who … collect commissions on behalf of and for those who are in the government”, the duo told a press conference.

“Everyone seems to know them. That is the reason why Augusta Westland approaches Verma to get a contract from the Indian Air force for helicopters. He is approached by ECI Telecom, an Israeli company to get their anti-dumping duty resolved. He is approached by RAD, a German company, which was one of the six blacklisted by the defence ministry, to get the blacklisting reversed.”

Kejriwal and Bhushan made these allegations on the basis of documents they received from a US citizen, C. Edmonds Allen, who was a business partner of Verma until they fell out in 2010. The two anti-corruption activists said they had verified some of these documents and some others appeared to be authentic.

They said that Allen had submitted these set of documents have also been passed on to CBI, ED and several ministers but no action had been taken. The receipts of documents had also not been acknowledged.

“It is all the more serious,” the duo alleged, because from the documents “it appeared that the links of commission agents go right up to the top. In a particular email from Abhishek Verma to ECI Telecom officer, Verma claimed to be in the know what transpired in meeting between PM and the foreign minister. The email assured ECI Telecom how the foreign minister would help ECI during his visit to Israel in January 2012.”

The Team Anna members also alleged that CBI, ED and other authorities not only had not investigated these serious allegations against Verma, they had been protecting him and helping him. “He is out on bail and his companies have not been blacklisted,” they said. 

“These documents reveal that the allegations made by General VK Singh are not only true but an underestimate of a much worse scenario,” they pointed out.

“All this indicates why we need an independent Lokpal, and CBI and ED out of government’s control,” they added.

Also read: Mani Shankar Aiyar's interview Bofors case must be treated as closed: Aiyar

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