New Delhi: CBI on Friday lodged a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into alleged bribery in the Rs 10,000 crore deal for supply of aircraft engines to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) by London-based Rolls Royce.
The agency has named unknown officials of HAL, owner of Aashmore Private Limited Ashok Patni and Rolls Royce in the PE that was registered after a complaint was received from the Defence Ministry to look into the supply of engines to HAL.
According to the PE, the agency would be probing alleged payment of bribe or kickbacks in the purchase of spare parts of the engines of the helicopters to the industrial and marine gas turbine division of HAL.
The allegations surfaced in the form of a letter received by HAL recently claiming that bribes were paid to officials in HAL and other departments concerned to bag contracts.
Rolls Royce had conducted an internal audit in which it was found that money had been paid to Commerical Advisor -- Aashmore Private Limited -- allegedly as kickbacks to swing the deal in favour of the UK-based company.
The allegation was that Aashmore provided "sales and logistics support, local business expertise and strategic advice" in dealings with HAL in the energy sector.
HAL, through its Industrial and Marine Gas Turbine Division, buys and maintains gas turbines for ONGC and GAIL.
Eversince the controversy surfaced, Rolls Royce has maintained that the company "will cooperate fully with the regulatory authorities and have repeatedly made clear that we will not tolerate misconduct of any sort."
Rolls Royce, in a letter written to HAL in December last, had said that it had employed a Singapore-based person identified as Ashok Patni and his firm Aashmore Private Limited as "commercial advisor" in India, providing sales and logistical support, local business support and "strategic advice."
The firm also told HAL that it had severed ties with Aashmore and its owner in 2013.
The commissions paid by the firm are in violation of the procurement rules in India which prohibits hiring of middlemen or commission agents while transacting deals with the Defence Ministry.