Date: 27 Sep 2007


'People linked to Gandhis got Bofors deal pay-offs'
Sumon K Chakrabarti / CNN-IBN
Published on Thursday , September 27, 2007 at 15:37 in Nation section 

CBI IN THE DOCK? Chief Swedish Investigator for Bofors, Sten Lindstrom says CBI has been fooling the Indian public.
Stockholm: He is the man who knows the inside story of the Bofors Scam. For the first time ever the Chief Swedish Investigator in charge of the Bofors case since 1989  Sten Lindstrom  has spoken on camera about the investigations for the first time.
While claiming that the CBI has fooled the Indian public, he said that the money from the Bofors deal was paid to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattorochi only because of his proximity with the Gandhi family and Indian politicians.
He, however, admitted there was no direct evidence of pay-offs against the Gandhis.
Sten Lindstrom was the man who headed the Bofors investigations in Sweden. For 15 years he was in charge of the probe, bringing out all the details in one of India's most high-profile scandals. 
Lindstrom's allegation puts the CBI in dock. He says that the CBI officials have so far met him for only 20 minutes and that the Indian Government has never been serious of getting any cooperation from Sweden. 
 India's most enduring scam - the Bofors deal - first came to light in 1987 when a Swedish radio broadcast alleged kickbacks in a defence deal for 155-mm howitzers. Incriminating documents surfaced in Sweden and Switzerland. 
Then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India's 155 mm field howitzer. 
The scale of corruption was far worse than any India had seen before, and directly led to the defeat of the ruling Indian National Congress party in the November 1989 general elections.
Soon, the name of an Italian middleman, associated with the scandal, started cropping up. The man was Ottavio Quattrocchi. 
Quattrocchi was born in 1938, at Mascali, in Italy. In 1964, at the age of 26, he came to India as a junior representative of the Italian conglomerate, the ENI group.
The company initially undertook a number of relatively small assignments for various fertiliser concerns, but 1970s onwards, it acquired a high and controversial profile, thanks to Quattrocchi and his access to the Nehru-Gandhi family. 
His first success was in 1977, when he managed to bag two contracts of the Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers Company and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers.
By the time he became a controversial figure, he had extracted other contracts worth Rs 8,000 crore from the Indian government.
Union ministers and secretaries, not to mention heads of public sector undertakings, were more than willing to dance to his tunes.
Soon, the reversals began. Vishwanath Pratap Singh, the then finance minister, refused to favour the Italian consortium represented by Quattrocchi. But Quattarochi had moved on.
By then, he was also working as representative for various other firms like AE services.
In 1986, AB Bofors appointed him as a negotiator for the sale of 400 odd Bofors Howitzer guns, a deal worth Rs 1,436 crore.
Trouble began when the deal was hit by the kickback scam and Parliamentary Committee investigation found him as being one of the accused.
He escaped from India in 1993 to the United Kingdom. In 1997, CBI finally got the necessary papers from Switzerland, and in 1999, a case was filed against him.