Ottavio Quattrocchi dies in Milan; end of Bofors saga?
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi died of a heart attack on Friday, his family confirmed on Saturday.
The family also confirmed that Quattrocchi died of a cardiac arrest in Milan. His funeral will take place on Monday, a member of the family told a media agency.
The 74-year-old Quattrocchi, once considered a close friend of the Gandhi family during his days in India as the representative of an Italian firm, was allegedly one of the major players in the Bofors gun scandal.
The Italian businessman was chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 1999 for allegedly acting as a conduit for bribes in the purchase of Howitzer guns from Swedish company Bofors AE. The Rs 1,600 crore contract was clinched in 1986.
The scandal, which erupted after a 1987 report on Swedish radio, was considered to be one of the reasons for the defeat of the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress party in the 1989 General Elections. In 2011, however, a Delhi court discharged Quattrocchi from the payoffs case after allowing the prosecuting agency, CBI, to withdraw charges against him, bringing to an end a major chapter in the 25-year-old Bofors saga. An application for withdrawal of the case agains Quattrocchi was filed by the public prosecutor on October 03, 2009.
The CBI had unsuccessfully tried to extradite Quattrocchi to India but it lost two extradition appeals, first in Malaysia in 2002, and then in Argentina in 2007.
Quattrochi left India in 1993 to avoid being arrested.
Defence minister AK Antony recently said the government does not plan to launch any fresh probe into the Bofors scandal and that Quattrocchi stands "discharged" as he could not be extradited even after 20 years of registration of the case.
Quattrocchi, born in Mascali, province of Catania, Sicily, is reported to have arrived in India in the mid-1960s as the representative of Italian oil and gas firm Eni and its engineering arm Snamprogetti.
(With Agency inputs)