M A I N   N E W S

FIR against Fernandes, Jaya, ex-Navy chief
Rs 1150 cr Barak missile deal under scanner
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 10
In a major development in the Defence deal cases, the CBI has registered an FIR against former Defence Minister George Fernandes, his associate and former President of Samata Party Jaya Jaitley and former Navy Chief Admiral Sushil Kumar, for alleged irregularities in the Barak Missile System Deal worth Rs 1150 crore with an Israeli firm.

Former Samata Party Treasurer R.K. Jain, former Naval Chief Admiral S.M. Nanda’s son Suresh Nanda and officials of the Israel Aircraft Industries Limited (IAI) have also been named in the FIR filed by the CBI in a designated court yesterday.

In a related development, the CBI today conducted searches at about 50 places in Delhi, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Sangrur in Punjab belonging to six defence agents — Vipin Khanna, Aditya Khana, Arvind Khanna (Congress MLA from Sangrur), Suresh Nanda, Sudhir Chowdhury and M.S. Sahni — in connection with the Barak deal.

The sleuths also raided the premises of two former army officials Major S.J. Singh and Lt Col A.K. Beri, who are also accused by the CBI of having acted as conduits.

The raids began at around 8 am and are likely to continue till late night.

Besides, seizure of about Rs 1.10 crore unaccounted money, the CBI teams have also so far recovered several pen drives, computer discs and several incriminating documents.

The CBI has seized Rs 62.5 lakhs from Nanda’s office at his five star hotel Claridges.

It has been alleged that the Khannas acted as middlemen in a defence deal with South Africa’s Denel. Significantly, Aditya Khanna is already facing the heat from the Enforcement Directorate for his alleged involvement in Iraq’s oil-for-food scam.

Under the Barak missiles deal, a contract for seven missile systems and 200 missiles was signed on October 23, 2000, with Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd, despite objections from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in view of the availability/feasibility of the indigenous system (Trishul) for adaptation to the navy.

The CBI case alleges that Rs two crore were paid to the president of a political party (Jaya Jaitley), who functioned from the residence of the then Defence Minister (George Fernandes), by the middlemen while the then National Treasurer of the said party (R.K. Jain) was given separate gratifications to the tune of several lakhs of rupees.

“Opinion of the DRDO was over-ruled by the then Defence Minister at the behest of the middlemen. The then CNS (Admiral Sushil Kumar) colluded with other accused and put up a note directly to the Defence Minister for import of six Barak AMD systems misrepresenting facts and citing a DRDO concurrence given three years earlier , when the indigenous Trishul System was in its initial stages of development and when in fact the CNS had discussed this matter that very day with the then DRDO Chief, who had opposed the proposal,” a CBI press note claimed.

"The then Defence Minister not only approved the proposal for import of Barak AMD but tried to get the proposal approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security of the then caretaker government despite objection by then Defence Secretary. The proposal had also been processed on a single tender basis," it said, adding, "prima facie evidence has also come forth indicating receipts of remittances from abroad from the aforesaid firm or other firms connected with it into the accounts of the middlemen and two other middlemen."

Meanwhile, Mr Fernandes denied the allegations and accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi of being behind the filing of the case against him.

The CBI has registered nearly a dozen cases on defence deals signed during the previous NDA regime, besides the case related to the supply of anti-material rifles by South Africa’s state-owned arms manufacturer Denel.

The agency is also probing allegations of irregularities in the purchase of special ammunition for 155mm howitzers for Rs 166.44 crore, spares for the 155mm guns worth Rs 97.65 crore and special clothing and mountaineering equipment worth Rs 95.15 crore.

Among other deals referred to the CBI were those for acquiring automatic grenade launchers (Rs 52.13 crore), bulletproof jackets (Rs 51.65 crore), multi-purpose boots (Rs 30.37 crore), charging/generating sets (Rs 28.15 crore), sleeping bags (Rs 20.69 crore), surveillance radars (Rs 9.86 crore) and sniper rifles (Rs 9.54 crore).



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