Defence minister A.K. Antony said on Thursday that the navy had ordered a probe into kickback allegations against some of its officers, made in a letter from India’s Ambassador in Washington to the Prime Minister’s office.
US Ambassador Meera Shankar’s letter dated May 12 said US firm York International Corporation routinely paid off bribes to Navy officers through its Indian subsidiary for securing after-installation service contracts and providing sales support for equipment sold to the navy between 2000 and 2006.
The payments were typically less than $1,000, but the total amount added up to $132,500 (Rs 60 lakh) on 215 orders, the letter said. This was revealed only on October 12 when the BJP distributed copies of Shankar’s letter, asking the Prime Minister to clamp down on Indian officials who had received bribes from US firms.
“I can assure you the government is taking the allegations seriously. We will not ignore the matter,” Antony said on the sidelines of the Navy Commanders’ Conference that ended on Thursday.
The letter said officials from Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Indian Railways and four other state-owned enterprises had received improper payments from US firms for facilitating their operations.
The references in Shankar’s letter were drawn from the US Report on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and anti-Corruption Enforcement for 2008-09 released on May 11, 2009.
The Navy probe comes after the Prime Minister’s Office directed all organisations whose names had figured in the letter to investigate the matter.
Navy to have its own satellite
The Navy is on track to getting its own communications satellite to improve connectivity across the Indian Ocean Region.
Antony said the naval communication satellite would be launched next year. It will form the backbone of the navy’s network-centric warfare operations.
The Navy would be the first among the three services to have its own dedicated satellite.
It will connect warships, aircraft and shore-based assets through a data link.