CBI wants Quattrocchi case withdrawn despite new twist

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NEW DELHI - The CBI Tuesday sought the withdrawal of the case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors payoff scam, saying it didn’t have enough evidence against him and there was no fresh word from the government. even after an Income Tax tribunal sensationally ruled that nearly Rs.15-billion gun deal was paid illegally as commission.

Advocate Ajay Agarwal, who is challenging the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea, told the court that the case should be re-looked into as the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had confirmed that Rs.412 million was paid by Swedish company Bofors to Quattrochi and his associate Win Chadha for felicitating the Howitzer field gun contract in 1986.

“The (CBI) application is not bonafide. There is no public interest involved in the CBI application. It should be rejected. Undue haste has been shown in the matter,” Agarwal later told reporters, as the court adjourned for lunch break.

The advocate said he pointed out that the tribunal order to the court, and Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav replied the two issues were “different”.

The judge said the tribunal order was about tax evasion while the court was hearing criminal proceedings against the accused, according to Agarwal.

Agarwal also mentioned about Law Minister M. Veerapa Moily’s remarks to journalists Monday that the government would re-examine the issue in the light of the tribunal order.

The judge then asked Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra, appearing for the CBI, whether the agency had received any fresh instructions from the government.

The CBI counsel said no new orders had come and the agency wanted to pursue with the withdrawal of the case against Quattrocchi after taking into account all aspects.

The court is expected to deliver its verdict later in the day.

The CBI is seeking to drop criminal proceedings against Quattrocchi on the grounds that there was no evidence against him and that persisting with the case would serve no purpose.

The agency had in 1999 charged former defence secretary S.K. Bhatnagar, Quattrocchi, Chadha, former Bofors chief Martin Ardbo and the company in connection with the case.

Bhatnagar, Ardbo and Chadha are dead. Quattrocchi - who has never appeared before any court in India - is the only surviving accused.

The CBI had failed on two occasions to get Quattrocchi extradited — first from Malaysia in 2003 and then from Argentina in 2007.

will not be displayed