New Delhi: The main opposition, BJP, on Monday came down heavily on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for giving a clean chit to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi and Win Chaddha following claims by the Income Tax tribunal that the two were paid kickbacks in the infamous Bofors deal.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said, “The Income Tax tribunal, which is judicial body, has after tracing the history of all those who were named in the case, said that kickbacks were paid to them. The tribunal has also said that bribes made to the middlemen clearly violated the norms laid down by the government, which prohibits paying kickbacks to any middleman in defence deals.”
“The findings of the IT tribunal contradict the observations made by the CBI into the case according to which no bribes or kickbacks were paid to anyone,” he added.
The BJP leader slammed the central investigating agency for working under the dictates of the Centre and not probing the case with full sincerity and impartiality.
“Now, after the IT tribunal’s claim a strange situation has been created, on one hand, we have the CBI, which has given a clean chit to Quattrocchi and Win Chaddha and, on the other, we have the Income Tax tribunal which says that the two were paid bribes in the Bofors deal,” he said.
“So the fraud, which was covered by the CBI at the behest of its political masters, clearly stands unravelled now. This is the discovery of truth by default. Truth has a very uncanny ability of coming out. The more you suppress it, the more it comes out in the open. You can not keep it covered for long,” said Jaitley.
BJP’s leader in Rajya Sabha also blamed the Congress government for trying to cover up the case and impeding the truth to come out.
“This is not merely a case of bribery. It has now been established that by influencing the investigations into the Bofors scandal, the ruling party has been trying to cover up the case for the past two decades, “he told reporters.
Jaitley also made a direct reference to the Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi’s five-point programme on nailing corruption by saying, “Ironically, the revelations by the Income Tax tribunal are a grim reminder to Sonia Gandhi that the country does not need a five-point programme to check corruption. What all is needed is a one-point programme of sending in jail all those who are accused, which will act as a deterrent.”
Referring to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s offer to appear before the PAC over the 2G scam the BJP leader said, “Even for the Prime Minister one can that problems don’t come alone. If his honest offer of deposing before the PAC can not convince his number two (Pranab Mukherjee) in the government, how can it convince the Opposition or the entire nation.”
The BJP leader’s remark came shortly after the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal claimed that Quattrocchi and Win Chadha received bribes in the nearly Rs 1,500 crore Bofors deal.
The tribunal claimed that an estimated 242.62 million Swedish Kroners were paid to the Italian businessman Quattrocchi and Chadha for securing the deals.
As per the tribunal’s findings, the bribes were paid into accounts of M/s Colbar Investments Limited Inc and M/s Wetelsen Overseas, controlled by Quattrocchi and his wife Maria Quattrocchi.
The kickback was paid by M/s AB Bofors as commission to Quattrocchi and Chadha through M/s AE Services and M/s Svenska.
The tribunal also observed that both Quattrocchi and Chaddha were liable to pay Income Tax in India for the bribes he received since the two were staying in India then.
Due to the bribes paid to the duo, India had to pay an excess amount of 242.62 million Swedish kroners for the guns.
First Published: Monday, January 03, 2011, 16:22