NEW DELHI: Even as the AgustaWestland chopper deal is still under investigation, another defence acquisition that happened during the Congress-led UPA government has come under the scanner.
The $208 million Brazilian Embraer jet deal, inked in 2008 by the DRDO for three aircraft equipped with indigenous AEW&C (airborne early warning and control systems), is under the scanner of US authorities over alleged kickbacks paid to secure the contract.
Following a news report in Brazilian media, DRDO is seeking explanation and details from Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer over allegations. “DRDO to seek explanation and details from manufacturer of Embraer aircraft on media reports on aircraft deal signed in 2008,” the ministry of defence said in a tweet. “On receipt of information by the DRDO, further steps may be initiated,” the ministry added. The company has been under investigation by the United States Justice Department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised the Americans’ suspicions. Since then, the probe has widened to examine business dealings with eight more countries.
According to Brazalian newspaper Folha De São Paulo report, “Investigations that have been opened by the government of the United States to establish whether Embraer paid bribes in order to obtain contracts abroad have affected deals that the Brazilian company closed with Saudi Arabia and India.”
Exmbraer has put $200 million aside to pay any eventual fines that come about as a result of the process.