Brazilian aircraft deal on CBI radar after kickback charges surface
NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked the CBI to probe allegations that the Brazilian aviation major Embraer hired a UK-based agent and paid commissions to swing the $208 million deal for three Emb-145 aircraft inked with India during UPA rule in 2008.
“In order to establish any criminality, if any, the CBI has been asked to initiate a probe through the diplomatic channel,” said a senior defence ministry official.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar 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 ministry can do an internal investigation,” he said.
The Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported on September 8 that the 2008 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 seven other countries.
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.
Officials also said the ministry had suggested that the CBI hand over the case to the SIT probing AgustaWestland bribery scandal. The deal is for three aircraft equipped with indigenous radar for airborne early warning and control systems. The first “modified” aircraft was delivered to the DRDO in 2011. After several missed deadlines, the project is now slated to be completed by December.