India, in the past couple of months, has closed at least two high-profile cases involving bribery and corruption in its defense dealings thus lifting a moratorium placed on several firms over the past decade.
One is the long-running investigation into the allegation that the Israeli Aerospace Industries paid kickbacks to Indian officials to win the Barak missile deal in 2001. The investigation also involved other procurements by the Indian armed forces which eventually led to several high-profile arrests in 2006.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, India's equivalent to the FBI, this week said it was closing the case due to “paucity of evidence.”
Since then India has awarded IAI a contract worth $641 million for the procurement of 262 Barak-I missiles for the Indian Navy.
The second is the investigation into allegations that a former army officer, claiming to represent Tatra’s Indian representative, had offered former Indian Army Chief, General V.K. Singh a US$2.8 million bribe to clear an order for 600 “sub-standard” Tatra trucks.
However, the CBI has reportedly hit a dead end after interviewing nearly 50 people. "It will be difficult for us to prove such allegations unless we get more direct evidence. It is therefore unlikely that we will pursue the case further," said a senior CBI official was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the CBI will likely close its 8-year long investigation against South-African weapons manufacturer Denel for allegedly paying kickbacks involving weapons supplied during the Kargil War.
Denel is accused of paying a 12.75 per cent commission to UK-based Varas Associates for the supply of bunker buster anti-material rifles. This case was was registered by the CBI in 2005. Denel was previously blacklisted by the MoD for arms contracts.
The now-closed cases leave behind them a slew of on-going investigations including the VVIP helicopter deal with AgustaWestland.
The helicopter-maker is accused of paying several million euros in bribes to the air force contract. The Indian ministry of defense has ordered a criminal investigation and put the contract on hold. Simply put, the MoD has suspended both payments and will not be accepting further deliveries.
Earlier this year, Indian officials charged a Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) official and two others who allegedly paid bribes on behalf of the company to ensure it wouldn’t get blacklisted in India.
Rheinmetalll, last year, was placed on a blacklist banned from doing business in India after corruption allegations surfaced.
Police have charged Gerhard Hoy, the India representative of Rheinmetall, with bribery, along with Indian businessman Abhishek Verma and his Romanian-born wife, Anca Neacsu.
Additionally, Neacsu was allegedly lobbying for a small arms manufacturer who was trying to win the INSAS assault rifles contract. She reportedly shot videos of these meetings to show her influence in government circles and reach to senior officials. These videos were then sent to manufacturers.