BOFORS & BABRI-MASJID: Congress-BJP deal

The Bofors scandal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1987; the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were accused of commission from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India’s 155 mm field howitzer to Swedish giant AB Bofors of Rs 1,437 crore contract. In 1987 Swedish Radio alleges firm paid bribes for the contract , also Swiss Magazine reported that 2 Million US Dollar was in the name of Gandhi family in Swiss Bank.Apart from the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi himself, the others accused of grabbing a piece of the Rs 64 crore “commission” that Bofors paid as established in the subsequent probe by Swedish investigators, were wheeler-dealer Win Chadha, an agent of the company (since deceased), the influential, London-based Hinduja business family (since exonerated by Indian courts) and Quattrocchi, then based in Delhi as representative of Snamprogetti from 1964 to 1993, an Italian engineering giant.It has been speculated that the scale of the scandal was to the tune of Rs. 400 million.The name of the middleman associated with the scandal was Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman who represented the petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti. Quattrocchi has relations with Sonia Gandhi family in Italy.When his family visits  in India they used to stay at Rajiv Gandhi private house.

AB Bofors gave Quattrocchi $73,43,941 which was deposited in the American account on 8.9.1986.On 16.09.1986 $700,000 and on 29.09.1986 $1,23,900 were transferred in Geneva,Union Bank of Switzerland, in the account of one Columbar Investment (ltd.) Inc. Quattrocchi and his wife had the authority to control and operate this account. When this account was opened, Quattrocchi was working in India as the regional director of Snamprogetti. He lived in Delhi since 1967 on Italian visa but the address he furnished at the time of opening the account was fake.This money was again transferred on the orders of Quattrocchi. It went to the account of Wettlesen Overseas, SAF Panama, in the same bank on 25.07.1998. This company was created in Panama on 6.8.1987 and was dissolved on 7.8.1988. This account was created only to embezzle the funds in question. This account too was handled and operated by Quattrocchi and his wife. $200000 were again transferred from Wettlesen SA account, in UBS Geneva, to the account of Inter Investment Development Company in favour of Ensbasher Ltd on 21.5.1990.

After the death of Rajiv Gandhi between 1991 to 1993 Quattrocchi met with Sonia Gandhi thirteen times with his wife.His wife used to go for shopping with sonia Gandhi in Italy. Rahul & Priyanka Gandhi when visits Italy they used to stay at Quattrocchi house.On July 29 1993 Quattrocchi fled secretly from India to  Kuala-Lumpur with just a briefcase, his wife was in Sonia Gandhi house in 1993.

In 1990 then Prime Minister V.P Singh government filed F.I.R  RC 1 (a)/ 90 ACU-IVSPE .(Letter Rogatory sent to Switzerland and Sweden) but does not mentioned Quattrocchi.On 22 January 1990 then additional solicitor general Arun Jaitley visits Switzerland & Sweden with CBI Joint director K. Madhavan .

Then Prime Minister granted demand of oppositon on JPC ( Joint Parliamentary Committee), but the committe cleared Rajiv Gandhi.Even while the case was being investigated, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 for an unrelated cause.The case came to light during Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s tenure as defence minister, and was revealed through investigative journalism by Chitra Subramaniam and N.Ram of the newspapers the Indian Express and The Hindu.On 1 February, 1992 then Foreign minister M.S. Solanki passes an unsigned note asking the Swiss to go slow on investigation. On 22 January, 1997 then CBI director Joginder Singh collects documents of Swiss bank accounts but at the time then Prime Minister H.D. Devigora ordered Joginder Singh not to file chargesheet.

On 22 October 1997 when BJP Government was in power then only CBI filed chargesheet Chargesheet (under Section 120 B and 420 of the Indian Penal Code for cheating and conspiracy) accuses Quattrocchi, trial court issues warrant against him.He was arrested in December 2000 in Malaysia, but at that time BJP government secretly dealt with Sonia Gandhi that if she would not touch “BJP-RSS Babri Masjid demolition” case then they will not do anything in “BOFORS’ case. So extradition proceedings which began in 2002 rejected by Kuala Lumpur Federal Court in 31,march 2004. The Swiss banks released some 500 documents after years of legal and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case against Quattrocchi, Win Chadha(who died of cardiac arrest in Delhi on October 2001), Rajiv Gandhi,H.R. Bhardwaj,defence secretary S. K. Bhatnagar and a number of others.Quattrocchi had been charged by the CBI special court in 1999 of being an illegal recipient of a commission of $7.3 million paid by Bofors in September 1986 into an account in a Zurich bank for a front company called AE Services in the UK. The funds were then immediately transferred to the Geneva account of the Panama-based Colbar Investments Limited said to be directly controlled by Quattrocchi and his wife. From there, the money was further transferred to other accounts in various parts of the world.In June 2003 when Interpol alerted the CBI headquarters that it had detected two accounts, 5A5151516M and 5A5151516L, held by Quattrocchi and his wife Maria with the BSI AG bank, London, that contained Euros 3 million and $1 million (a total of Rs 21 crore), respectively. It suspected that the money had been transferred from a Bahamas account.On May 31, 2005, Justice R.S. Sodhi of the High court of Delhi dismissed the Bofors case allegations against the British business brothers, Shrichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja. On 18 October, 2005 Supreme Court then advocate Ajay Aggarwal files PIL(Public Intrest Litigation) against the judgement. But on 22 December 2005 Congress Government ordered Mr B. Daat(the additional solicitor general of India) acting on behalf of the Indian Government and the CBI requested the British Government that two British bank accounts of Ottavio Quattrocchi be de-frozen. So Quattrocchi draws money on 11 January 2006.On 12 January 2006 then Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj defends defreezing, said that no proof against Quattrocchi. The CBI first denies and then admits to having ordered the defreeze.Now the drama begins ,On January 16 the Indian Supreme Court directed the Indian government to ensure that Ottavio Quattrocchi did not withdraw money from the two bank accounts in London. The CBI, the Indian federal law enforcement agency, on January 23, 2006 admitted that roughly Rs 21 crore, about USD $4.6 million, in the two accounts have already been withdrawn.The deals cost the Government of India an extra 160 crore rupees.On January 16, 2006, CBI claimed in an affidavit filed before the Supreme court that they were still pursuing extradition orders for Ottavio Quattrocchi. The Interpol, at the request of the CBI, has a long standing red corner notice to arrest Quattrocchi.On March 31,2006 in court of chief metropolitan magistrate, Delhi ordered Quattrocchi extradition from Italy.Quattrocchi was detained in Argentina on 6 February 2007, but the news of his detention was released by the CBI only on 23 February.
This is the story of how corruption exists from congress to BJP to Bureaucrats to brokers to swiss Bank.

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