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More defence deals, firms under scanner

delhi Updated: Jul 04, 2009 23:33 IST
Manish Tiwari

The Defence ministry will review all files relating to the arms deals conducted during the tenure of former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chairman Sudipto Ghosh.

Defence minister A K Antony has taken a serious view of the matter.

A secretary-rank officer in the ministry has been asked to review all the files cleared by Ghosh. The move comes after the CBI told the government that besides seven firms already blacklisted by the ministry, nine other firms also seem to have paid “illegal gratification” to secure defence deals when Ghosh was in the helm of defence purchases.

The scam, as per the CBI, is turning out to be one of the biggest ever in India involving defence contracts worth over Rs 10,000 crore.

Ghosh, who retired as OFB chairman on April 30, is accused of receiving bribes from the arms manufacturers to award these contracts.

CBI spokesman Harsh Bhal said: “It is perhaps the biggest scam in recent history.”

“We are reviewing all files cleared by Ghosh after indications from the CBI that several other firms could also have paid illegal gratification money to secure contracts for defence supplies,” said a top defence ministry official who did not wish to be identified.

Defence Ministry principal spokesman Sitanshu Kar said: “Whenever such a thing comes to light, all files (handled by that particular officer) are reviewed.”

On May 18, Ghosh was arrested on charges of accepting huge bribes from defence firms.

Of the 16 firms under the CBI scanner, most are said to be based in Singapore, while others are in Israel, Sweden, Norway, Italy and France.

The CBI had indicated to the Prime Minister’s Office and the defence ministry a month ago that fresh evidence suggested that huge bribes could have been paid by more firms.

The files relating to the defence deals have been seized by the CBI and further investigations are on.

The Defence Minister has, meanwhile, instructed a top IAS officer attached to him to follow up the case on a day-to-day basis with the Department of Defence Production, the OFB and keep him, the PMO and head of the vigilance in the MoD posted of all the developments.