The case came to light during VishwanathPratap Singh's tenure as defence minister, and was revealed through investigative journalism by ChitraSubramaniam and N. Ram of the newspapers the Indian Express and The Hindu.The scale of the corruption was far worse than any that India had seen before, and directly led to the defeat of Gandhi's ruling Indian National Congress party in the November 1989 general elections
The case relates to the kickbacks in a 1986 arms deal in which the Indian Army procured 155-mm Howitzers from Swedish firm A B Bofors. Three of the accused - former arms dealer Win Chaddha, ex-Defence Secretary S K Bhatnagar and former Bofors honcho Martin Arbdo - died during the course of the probe. For eighteen long years has ended up as a cipher, as the Delhi High Court acquitted three Hinduja Brothers in the sensational Bofors case.
MEANING Bofors is an iron works, cannon maker, and defence industry located in Karlskoga, Sweden. The name Bofors is strongly associated with a 40mm anti-aircraft gun based on a Bofors design. Bofors is today split in two parts: Saab Bofors Dynamics owned by Saab Bofors Defence owned by United
INTRODUCTION The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply Indias 155 mm field howitzer. It has been speculated that the scale of the scandal was to the tune of Rs. 400 million
Bofors deal The Government of India and A.B. Bofors in Sweden on March 24, 1986 for the supply of 410 field howitzers ammunition and other accessories as part of the 155 mm gun system at a total cost of Rs.1,437.72 crores
Key players in Boforsscandal Then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Former defence secretary S. K. Bhatnagar. The alleged middle man. Ottavio Quattrocchi is the lone surviving suspect in the multi-crore Bofors scandal. Win Chadha: Arms agent. He was accused of receiving a part of the Rs 640 million. Martin Ardbo: Former Bofors chief.
CONTRADICTIONS The deal was worth 1437.72 crore that time. The kickbacks were sighted to be to the tune of Rs 64 crore, but the probe cost Rs 250 crore, in a time span of 18 years. The HC ruled that the prosecution has failed to prove that the Hinduja Brothers – Gopichand, Prakashchand and Srichand – were linked to the kickbacks in the Bofors deal.
SETBACKS Win chadda death was a major setback. Rajiv gandhi was cleared of the bribe case. Trial court issues "open non-bailable arrest warrants" against Ardbo. Former defence secretary Bhatnagar died of cancer.
Important dates March 24, 1986: A $1.4 billion contract between the Indian government and Swedish arms company AB Bofors signed for supply of over 400 155mm howitzers. April 16, 1987: Swedish Radio claims Bofors paid kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials to secure the deal. April 20, 1987: Then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi assures the Lok Sabha that neither was any middleman involved in the deal nor were kickbacks paid.. January 22, 1990: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registers complaint in the case. January 26, 1990: Swiss authorities freeze bank accounts of Svenska and AE Services, who allegedly received unauthorised commissions for the deal.
November 1989: Rajiv Gandhi loses power as Congress defeated in general elections. November 7, 1999: Trial court issues arrest warrants against Quattrocchi, while summoning other four accused July 29, 2000: Trial court issues "open non-bailable arrest warrants" against Ardbo. December 20, 2000: Quattrocchi arrested in Malaysia August 6, 2001: Former defence secretary Bhatnagar dies of cancer. October 24, 2001: Win Chadha dies of heart attack at his New Delhi residence. May 31, 2005: Delhi High Court clears Hindujas of involvement in the scandal July 28, 2003: Acting on Indias request, Britain freezes Quattrocchis bank accounts
July 28, 2003: Acting on Indias request, Britain freezes Quattrocchis bank accounts. January 4, 2004: Swiss authorities agree to consider CBIs request for providing Quattrocchis bank details. February 4, 2004: Delhi High Court clears Rajiv Gandhi of involvement in the Bofors kickbacks scandal. May 31, 2005: Delhi High Court clears Hindujas of involvement in the scandal. Dec 31, 2005: The CBI tells Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), London, that it has not been able to link the money in two accounts of Quattrocchi with the Bofors kickbacks Jan 7, 2006: Two accounts of Quattrocchi in London banks containing 3 million euros and $1 million were defreezed after then additional solicitor general B. Dutta met the CPS lawyers. Feb 6, 2007: Quattrocchi detained at Iguazu international airport on an Interpol lookout notice. Feb 13, 2007: CBI writes to Ministry of External Affairs for Argentinean Extradition Act and tells Interpol Buenos Aires that documentation being prepared for extradition proceedings. Feb 24, 2007: Fresh warrant of arrest against Quattrocchi obtained from Delhi court Feb 26, 2007: Quattrochhi released on bail with condition that he does not leave Argentina. Feb 28, 2007: Two-member CBI team to leave for Argentina.
End of case The Bofors saga may at last be over with the Delhi High Courts verdict quashing the charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating against the Hinduja Brothers and the Bofors company
Recent news as on feb 21 The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) ruled Dec 31 that Quattrocchi and his associate Win Chadha, who is now dead, received a commission of over Rs.412 million in the Rs.15-billion howitzer gun deal in 1987
Twist by CBI The CBI pleaded for withdrawal of proceedings against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the over two-decade-old Bofors pay off case, saying it has got no fresh instructions from the government in the wake of the Income Tax Appellate .