CBI Books Arms Dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, Rolls Royce Over Hal Deal — ‘£1.85mn Bribe, Missing Papers’

According to CBI sources, it has been revealed that the CBI has booked Arms Dealer Sudhir Choudhrie and Rolls Royce over the HAL Deal for corruption charges, involving a £1.85 million bribe and missing papers.

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London-based India-born arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, his son Bhanu, and British aerospace major Rolls Royce were booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a corruption case pertaining to the procurement of Hawk jets for the training of Indian Air Force pilots, CBI sources said Monday.

It is learnt that a case has also been registered against unknown public servants, including from the Defence Ministry and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the manufacturer of the Hawk trainers in India. The case dates to the era when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was in power in India.

Choudhrie and his son both reportedly figure in a list of “unde­sirable middlemen” in the Defence Ministry and that of the CBI.

However, while Sudhir Choudhrie has been probed by investigative agencies in the past, including by the CBI, he has never been convicted or arrested in India.

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He is now a British citizen and runs a large business empire with interests in the hospitality, aviation, and healthcare sectors. Choudhrie is also reportedly a big political donor in the UK.

According to sources, the CBI case dates to 2003-2012 and involves allegations against the then Rolls Royce India director Tim Jones and others of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to deceive the Government of India in the procurement of Hawk aircraft.

Notably, the ongoing CBI investigation, which has spanned several years, has found that crucial documents related to the purported transaction were seized from the premises of M/s Rolls Royce India Pvt. Ltd. during a survey conducted by the Income Tax Department in 2006-07.

However, the accused individuals, allegedly deliberately caused the “disappearance” of these documents in order to evade a probe, according to the CBI FIR, which ThePrint has seen. It says that “in furtherance of the conspiracy and to evade investigation by Indian agencies into the alleged bungling in the deal, (the accused) caused disappearance/removal/destruction of such vital documents”.

Further, Rolls Royce is alleged to have paid kickbacks to public servants in India, including tax officials, to prevent investigation into its tax affairs and use of advisors. An amount of GBP 1.85 million was allegedly paid to intermediaries through Commercial Contractual Agreements (CCAs).

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