BJP demands fresh probe into Bofors kickbacks

Monday, January 3, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday demanded a special investigation team to probe the payment of kickbacks to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi and Dubai-based businessman Win Chadha in the Bofors gun deal.

The party raised the demand after the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal nailed Quattrocchi and Chadha in the Bofors scandal.

The tribunal said kickbacks were paid to Quattrocchi and Chadha, who died a decade ago, in the nearly Rs.1,500 crore Bofors deal concluded by the then Congress-led government.

It was a fraud. After this (tribunal) order, you need to reopen the criminal matter and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) surely can’t be trusted with it. There is no better case to have a SIT (special investigation team) to reinvestigate this matter, which was closed because of fraud, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.

How can this country have a situation where the criminal investigative agency says there are no kickbacks. And the highest revenue agency says taxes are payable on these kickbacks, he said.

They didn’t file appeals against unlawful orders, they got the accounts defrozen. This was not merely a case of bribery. It is now established by this judicial order. Bribery was accompanied by a huge cover up operation which has almost lasted two and half decades, he said.

Nobody has still answered the question which this order raises - in 1986 why was Quattrocchi paid this money, he said.

Jaitley also attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying his offer to appear before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in connection with the 2G spectrum scandal was not enough.

This so-called innocent offer to appear before the PAC is not the answer to corruption. If his offer has not convinced his number two in the government, it surely can’t convince the opposition or the nation, he said, referring to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s remarks that the prime minister should not have offered to appear before the PAC.

Ironically, for Sonia Gandhi, this is a timely reminder that this country does not need five points to fight corruption.

“You only need one point to fight corruption - start sending those guilty of corruption to jail and don’t cover up, he added.

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