Investigating kickbacks in the $208million (Rs1,350crore) Embraer aircraft deal, a Central Bureau of Investigation team recently collected crucial documents from the United States, where its department of justice is probing Embraer’s alleged violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Top CBI sources said that a team had recently gone to the US to collect evidence on Embraer which could be useful in proving the corruption charges in the deal signed in India. “The documents are now being scrutinised,” said the officer.
The agency is also in touch with Brazilian authorities to seek information about the aerospace conglomerate, alleged middleman Vipin Khanna and route of alleged ‘bribe’ payments.
CBI has already found out that more than $5.70 million had been paid allegedly as kickbacks in the contract and these have been linked to Khanna, said sources.
Leading Brazilian newspaper ‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ has reported that Embraer has been under investigation by the US justice department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised American suspicions.
The newspaper had reported the irregularities in September last year after which ministry of defence ordered a CBI probe.
In its FIR, CBI has alleged that kickbacks worth over $5.70 million were paid to clinch the contract of three aircraft in 2008. Khanna, whose name had figured earlier too in defence deals probed by the agency, is named as accused along with two companies — Brazil-based Embraer and Singapore-based Interdev Pte Ltd — in the deal.
The deal for the three aircraft which were to be used by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for air-borne radar systems was inked with Embraer in 2008.
The Brazilian newspaper had claimed that that the aviation company had taken the services of middlemen to clinch deals in Saudi Arabia and India. According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in such deals.
After the probe was initiated, Embraer had issued a statement saying, “Since 2011, Embraer has publicly reported that it has been conducting an extensive internal investigation and cooperating with the authorities on investigations regarding alleged violations of the FCPA. The company voluntarily expanded the scope of the investigation, systematically reporting the progress of the case to the market.”
“The company is not party of the legal proceedings in Brazil. Therefore, it does not have access to the information contained therein,” it had said.