BOFORS scandal- story, truth and proof

By Sanchit on Wednesday, May 06, 2009

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All must have heard about
BOFORS scandal in news recently or over the past few years. Some may not have any clue what is it all about while others may be thinking that BJP is flocking a dead horse and trying to gain votes by falsely levelling acquisitions.

I request all the people to read the following few paragraphs which will clear all the doubts like "what BOFORS scandal is" and "how congress is involved in it". It will just take 5 min to read the article. Lets spend atleast "5 min" for the nation.


The Quattrocchi case is an embarrassment for the Government of India... The court says we do not have a strong case”. It is not Antonia Maino (aka Sonia) Gandhi defending her Italian friend. It is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as if she had appointed him as the advocate to plead for Q. “It’s not a good reflection on the Indian legal system,” says the PM moved by compassion for Q, “that we harass people while the world says we have no case.” Singh, who was with the South Commission on a comfortable salary and perks when the Bofors scam rocked the country, seems totally unaware of the facts of the Bofors scam. Here is a short trailer of the scam.

The Bofors scam — pay-off for India’s gun purchase deal with Sweden — broke out in 1987. A third of the Indians living today were not yet born then; and a fourth of the Indians living then are no more alive today. So some history needs to be recalled here. First, the Bofors payoff was exposed by the media and the Rajiv government went all out to suppress the exposure. Including the payoff of $36.5 million to Q, the Bofors deal contemplated three streams of payoff totalling $250 million. Persistent investigations by the media and the CBI brought out the involvement of Q in the gun deal.

The closeness of Q and his wife Maria to Sonia family was always well known.

The Sonia and Maria families spent their weekends and annual holidays together.

They left one’s children in the custody of the other when going out of station. So intense was their relationship. The media found that some $7.3 million from Bofors AB had found its way into Q’s secret bank accounts. Facts began to tumble out testifying that it was fee to Q for swinging the $1.2 billion gun deal for the Swedish gun maker.

Here is how Q got the deal for Bofors.

The Rajiv Gandhi government could not decide for a long time what gun to buy — the British, Austrian or Swedish. The two brokers engaged by Bofors could not expedite the deal. Suddenly, in the second half of 1985, AE Services (AES), a shell company, entered the deal with this offer to Bofors: “Look. If we get you the deal by March 31, 1986, give us a fee of three per cent. If not, don’t pay.” Bofors accepted the offer and signed up with the AES shell on October 15, 1985. Unless Bofors knew that the man behind AES had had the clout to get it done from the Rajiv government, it would never have signed with a shell company.

And AES shell did get the Rajiv government to sign the contract with Bofors on March 22, 1986 — seven days ahead of the target date of March 31, 1986. Within six months, AES got the first tranche of its fee of $7.3 million. Proof emerged slowly that this money finally went to Q, showing he was the man behind the shell.

■ Bofors remitted on September 3, 1986, $7.3 million into AES account number 18051-53 in Nordfinanz Bank, Zurich.

This equalled 20 per cent of the three per cent bribe of $36.5 millions due to AES.

■ Two weeks later (on September 16, 1986) AES delivered $7 million into account number 254.561.60W in the same bank in the name of Colbar Investments — a company controlled by Q and Maria.

■ In April 1987, the Swedish Radio broke the news of bribes in Bofors deal with India. Later, in June 1988, the media published authoritative documents seized by the Swedish police which established the payoff. By now, Bofors scam had become a huge national issue.

■ Forthwith Q and Maria hurriedly shifted their loot, grown with interest, from Geneva to Channel Islands, to New York to Austria. First, on July 25, 1988 $7.9 million moved from Colbar to account number 488.320.60X of Wetelsen Overseas SA, in UBS, Geneva. Next, on May 21, 1990, $9.2 million moved from Wetelson to account number 123983 of IIDCL, Ansbacher, St Peter Port, Guernsey (Channel Islands). Later, on June 5, 1990, $2.4 million channelled into code-named account ‘Robusta’ in Banque Karfinco SA from Swiss Bank Corp, New York. Afterwards, on June 12, 1990, $5.3 million was transferred to code-named accounts ‘Arabica’, ‘Robusta’ and ‘Luxor’ in Austria from Swiss Bank accounts in Geneva.

■ Within six days of the Swiss government giving these details to India in 1993, Q slipped out of India and turned a fugitive, thanks to the Narasimha Rao government helping him to run away.

■ Later, in June 2003, Interpol found that Q and Maria had two accounts, bearing numbers 5A5151516L and 5A5151516M in the London branch of the Swiss bank BSI AG with Euros three million and $1 million.

They were frozen on CBI’s request.

British courts later repeatedly turned down Quattrocchi’s several appeals to de-freeze the accounts.

■ But, on December 22, 2005, the Congressled UPA government U-turned. H R Bharadwaj, the law minister, got the additional solicitor general of India, B Dutta, to go to London to do the dirty job of releasing the amounts.

Can anyone say now that Q is innocent and he just received some charity of $7.3 million from Bofors? Yet the Sonia-led government allowed Q to smuggle the bribe from the frozen accounts. All that the CBI asks of Q is this: Come to India and answer these questions — why Bofors paid him the money; did it relate to the gun deal; what is his relation with Sonia family, AE Services, Colbar Investments and the coded and numbered bank accounts through which the payoff has finally reached him.

Why not Sonia Gandhi just ask him to appear before the court and prove his innocence? Why does she, on the contrary, abet his refusal to present himself before courts in India? It is clear that she will not ask him. Why? Here is the answer: unless Sonia protects Q here, he will not protect her outside. The stakes seem to be too high.

QED: Manmohan Singh today does what Sonia wants like Narasimha Rao did then what she wanted. Yet, there is a difference between how the two obliged her. Rao felt shy to do what she wanted. So he did it stealthily. Singh does what she wants openly and shamelessly. Even, a Sonia family retainer like H R Bharadwaj feels shy to own up the shameless withdrawal of the Red Corner Notice on Q; but the PM owns it proudly. Singh is shameless about what Rao used to feel shy. Why? Unlike Rao, Singh is not an elected prime minister but a nominated one; he is not chosen by democratic process, but selected by the dynasty; he is not backed by the people, but backed by the family. So the shift from shyness to shamelessness, from Rao to Singh.

About the author:
S Gurumurthy is a well-known commentator on political and economic issues.

Also see-
Black money stashed abroad and proof against congress