No evidence of kickbacks in Scorpene deal, says CBI

May 17th, 2008 - 12:17 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday told the Delhi High Court that after preliminary investigations it had found no evidence of payment of kickbacks in the Rs.14.35 billion Scorpene submarine deal. “No case is made out in the deal. Nothing was found about the Scorpene submarine deal kickbacks,” advocate Mukta Gupta contended before a bench comprising Justices T.S. Thakur and Siddharth Mridul.

The court then adjourned the case and posted it for July 14 when the CBI report would be opened.

In the previous hearing, the court had rejected French arms company Thales’ plea to dismiss a public suit that contended that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) did not pass on all its findings to the CBI. The court said it could not dismiss the petition without going through the action taken report submitted by the CBI.

The public suit was filed in the Delhi High Court by lawyer Prashant Bhushan alleging that the IB, which was initially investigating the matter, did not pass all its findings to the CBI and that there were links between the Scorpene deal and what is termed as the Naval War Room leak case.

It was alleged that one of the accused in the Navy War Room leak case, Abhishek Verma, sent an e-mail to the French manufacturer of the submarine demanding on behalf of a political party four percent commission for brokering the Rs.160 billion deal.

The e-mail is in the IB’s possession, the public suit says.

Various government agencies, including the IB, were involved in investigating the Navy War Room leak. In February 2006, the authorities decided to hand over the case to the CBI for initiating criminal proceedings against the naval officers and civilians allegedly involved.

Retired navy officers Ravi Shankaran and Kulbhushan Parashar, and also Verma, are accused of involvement in the alleged leak of sensitive information from the Navy War Room here.

The leaked data allegedly pertained to the navy’s procurement plans, including its sensitive submarine acquisition programme.

The CBI is yet to zero in on prime accused Shankaran, who is believed to be hiding in Europe. Shankaran is a nephew of former Indian Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash.

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