The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday started investigating alleged kickbacks worth Rs 18.8 crore by British firm Rolls Royce to its agent for bagging contracts worth Rs 4,700 crore to supply aircraft engine spare parts to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The CBI’s preliminary enquiry (PE) was lodged against unknown officials of Rolls Royce, its alleged agent (“commercial consultant”) Singapore-based Aashmore Private Ltd owner Ashok Patni and unknown officials of HAL, a source said.
The PE did not mention the name of alleged arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, who was last month quizzed by the British Serious Fraud Office in connection with its Rolls Royce probe.
“The Rs 18.8 crore-kickback was paid as illegal commission to Patni’s firm by Rolls Royce in violation of the defence ministry’s integrity clause which bars middlemen,” the source said, adding: “Rolls Royce owned up the commission in its internal audit…. HAL’s vigilance inquiries also confirmed it.”
The kickbacks were for contracts during 2005-13. “The contracts comprised around 170 purchase orders, of which payment for around 100 had been made by HAL,” said the source.
The defence ministry has put on hold all existing and future deals with Rolls Royce pending the CBI probe.