Defence Minister AK Antony has ordered a CBI probe into allegations that a global engine manufacturing firm had paid bribes to Indian defence officials to bag military contracts from 2007 to 2011 in deals worth over Rs 10,000 crore.
The allegations surfaced in the form of a letter received by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) recently claiming that bribes were paid to officials in HAL and other departments concerned to bag contracts, highly-placed government sources told PTI here.
HAL immediately initiated an inquiry into the charges through its Chief Vigilance Officer, which has found credence in the charges. The firm in question has supplied engines for the aircraft being manufactured by the HAL for the Indian Air Force, they said.
The investigations by the HAL, CVO have prima facie found that the company allegedly violated several of the contractual obligations with HAL between the period of 2007-11, when these bribes were allegedly paid, they said.
The issue came to light after HAL issued queries to its vendors and suppliers to ensure probity in its transactions as part of its integrity pact to be signed with them, they said.
After the case with the findings and recommendations of the HAL,CVO was brought to the notice of Defence Minister, Antony ordered that the case be handed over to CBI for further investigations, the sources said.
After the development, IAF's several programmes are expected to get delayed but the Defence Ministry is firm that it would not allow any corruption to take place in its procurement process and would take strict action even if it means delays in some of the projects.
The firm concerned could not be contacted for its response on the issue.
Antony has been prompt in ordering inquiries into defence deals even if the complaints are received from anonymous sources to avoid and eradicate corruption in military purchases.
The Defence Minister took stern action against the charges of bribery made in the AgustaWestland chopper scam by cancelling the deal on January 1 this year after it was allegedly found that the firm had violated the pre-integrity pact of the Defence Ministry meant for ensuring probity in defence deals. In his tenure of more than eight years, the Defence Minister has handed over around 100 cases of alleged corruption to CBI for investigations.