The government will for now stick to its decision to not blacklist Rolls-Royce despite fresh evidence surfacing in the ongoing investigation in UK about the global engine manufacturer as well as some Russian armament firms allegedly making “secret payments” to controversial arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie.
Secret documents accessed by BBC and The Guardian allegedly show payments of hundreds of millions of dollars from Rolls-Royce and Russian companies like MiG Corp, Rosoboronexport and and NPO to companies controlled by Choudhrie, his son Bhanu and other family members.
A British citizen of Indian origin, Choudhrie has been under the scanner of CBI and ED in several arms deals but the agencies have failed to pin him down till now despite putting his name in the list of “undesirable contact men”. India has inked deals worth billions of dollars with Russian firms as well as Rolls-Royce, whose engines power Indian Jaguar fighters, Avro planes, VVIP Embraer Legacy jet, C-130J “Super Hercules”, Hawk AJTs and the like, over the years.
IAF and Navy, for instance, are now close to inducting all of the 123 Hawk AJTs, which are manufactured by BAE Systems but have the Adour Mk.871 engines of Rolls-Royce, ordered to train rookie pilots till now. The overall project is worth over Rs 16,000 crore.
Defence ministry sources said on Tuesday that “there is no reason” as of now to stop dealing with Rolls-Royce, even as CBI and ED will “continue their independent probes against Choudhrie, a known defence middleman”.
Chaudhry’s lawyer, however, has held his client has never paid bribes to Indian government officials or acted as an illegal middleman. In a statement, Rolls-Royce in turn said, “Concerns about bribery and corruption involving intermediaries remain subject to investigation by the (British) Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and other authorities. We are fully cooperating with the authorities and we cannot comment on ongoing investigations.” Source;TOI