By Express News Service Published: 15th September 2016 – The New Indian Express
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started analyzing allegations of Brazilian aviation major Embraer hiring a UK-based agent and paying commissions to swing the $208 million deal for three Emb-145 aircraft inked with India during UPA rule in 2008.
The government had asked the agency to probe in allegations of corruption in the purchase of three Embraer aircraft for Defence Research and Development Organisation in 2008
The agency sources said officials are going through the reference and any decision to start a probe in the matter will be taken soon after analysing all the documents.
If the agency is satisfied that it has enough prima facie evidence to initiate an FIR, it will start or else it might register a preliminary enquiry to gather enough material for registering a regular case, they said.
Government had stated that the allegations were of a serious nature and the CBI will probe.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier this week said that, “If there is a criminal angle, then the CBI will probe as the Ministry cannot”. “If only procedural issues are involved, then the Defence Ministry can do an internal investigation,” he had said.
The deal for purchase of three Embraer aircraft during the UPA regime has kicked up dust with US authorities going into alleged payment of kickbacks. The deal has come under the scanner of the US Justice Department which has been probing Embraer for alleged payment of bribes to secure contracts.
Soon after, the reports of irregularity surfaced, the DRDO has already sought a report from the Brazilian firm, which has said it has been looking into graft allegations over the last five years.
DRDO investigation through report from Brazilian firm is a separate investigation. Parallel investigation has been started by CBI
The Special Investigation Team probing AgustaWestland bribery scandal will also probe this scam.
The deal was signed in 2008 between Embraer and the DRDO for three aircraft equipped with indigenous radars for AEW&C (airborne early warning and control systems). The first “modified” aircraft was delivered to DRDO in 2011, with the other two following later.
After several missed deadlines, the AEW&C project is now slated to be completed by December. Present DRDO chief S Christopher was the AEW&C programme director and head of the Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) before he was chosen to head DRDO in May 2015 by the NDA government.
Sources claimed that role of the committee, comprised of officials from IAF and DRDO is also under scanner, which shortlisted the Embraer deal.
Brazil’s top newspaper, the ‘Folha de Sao Paulo’, had reported on September 8 that the possible bribery in the 2008 Indian deal was under the scanner of the US justice department, which has been investigating Embraer since 2010, after a contract with the Dominican Republic raised suspicion. The scope of the investigation has now been widened to examine Embraer’s dealings with eight other countries, including India and Saudi Arabia.