A new potential scam has emerged with Defence Minister A K Antony ordering a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allegations of bribery in a Rs 10,000 crore deal for supply of aircraft engines to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) by London-based Rolls Royce company.
The deal relates to supply of engines for Hawk trainer and Jaguar fighter aircraft between 2007 and 2011. An internal probe by the vigilance wing of HAL has prima facie established the charges, highly-placed Defence Ministry sources said.
When contacted for a reaction to the allegation, Rolls Royce said in an email response that the company would be able to do so only tomorrow (Monday) as today is a holiday.
The allegations surfaced in the form of a letter received by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) recently claiming that bribes were paid to officials in HAL and other departments concerned to bag contracts, the sources said.
HAL immediately initiated an inquiry into the charges through its Chief Vigilance Officer.
The investigations by CVO have prima facie found that the company allegedly violated several of the contractual obligations with HAL between the period of 2007-11, when these bribes were allegedly paid, they said.
The company has supplied engines for the aircraft being manufactured by the HAL for the Indian Air Force, they said.
The issue came to light after HAL issued queries to its vendors and suppliers to ensure probity in its transactions as part of its integrity pact to be signed with them, they said.
Antony ordered the CBI probe after the case along with the findings and recommendations of the CVO of HAL was brought to the notice of Defence Minister, the sources said.
In view of the development, IAF's several programmes are expected to get delayed. However, the Defence Minister is firm that he would not allow any corruption in the procurement process and would take strict action even if it means delays.
Antony has been prompt in ordering inquiries into defence deals even if the complaints are received from anonymous sources to avoid questions over military purchases.
The Defence Minister took stern action against the charges of bribery made in the AgustaWestland chopper scam by cancelling the deal on January 1 this year after it was allegedly found that the firm had violated the pre-integrity pact of the Defence Ministry meant for ensuring probity in defence deals.
In his tenure of more than eight years, the Defence Minister has handed over around 100 cases of alleged corruption to CBI for investigations.