New Delhi: Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Joginder Singh on Sunday said a change of government in 1989 was primarily responsible for the slowing down of the probe into the Bofors gun scam.
Reacting to the news of the death of Italian businessman and one of the prime accused in the scam Ottavio Quattrocchi, Singh said, The government changed and the case was dragged. The case was based only on documents. It took four years just for the FIR to be lodged and accepted."
"The CBI had to get permission from the government and it took one more year. The judge dropped the case on grounds that the CBI produced only photocopies related to it. The government refused to give permission to the CBI to approach foreign courts. The CBI is a caged parrot," he added.
Crediting The Hindu newspaper and its editor-in-chief N Ram for bringing the scam to light, Singh, however, said that it was a tragedy that the documents related to the scam-tainted gun deal couldn’t stand scrutiny in a court of law.
"We had to get them (the accused) through legal channels. The allegation was first broadcasted by Swedish Radio. Rajiv Gandhi (former Prime Minister) was in Russia during that time. A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) enquired into this and the minutes of the JPC are now public documents. I remember that one of the opposition members had a dissent note," the former CBI director said.
Singh today believes that former Prime Minister VP Singh won the 1989 general election because of the public hue and cry over the Rs 64 crore Bofors scam.
He also recalls that Interpol had promised to provide all documents related to the scam within three months of it being announced, and that he personally went to Switzerland to collect the documents from the authorities there.
The former CBI director claimed that Quattrocchi received 7.32 million dollars as commission for swinging the deal. He also said that he had no grudge against anybody linked to the scam, including Quattrocchi.
Singh’s comments came a day after Quattrocchi died of a heart attack in Milan, Italy.
Local media reports said that his funeral will take place on Monday.
It may be recalled that Quattrocchi represented Italian petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti and was accused of being one of the middleman in the Bofors scandal.
He was also said to be close to the Nehru- Gandhi family, and this fuelled speculation about his rise as a power broker between New Delhi and international businesses.
The Bofors scam relates to a March 1986 deal between the Indian Government and Swedish arms company Bofors for the supply of 410 155mm Howitzer field guns worth about 285 to 286 million dollars.
A year later, news broke that Bofors had allegedly paid kickbacks worth Rs. 64 crore to top Indian politicians and officials to secure the deal.