Indian-origin arms dealer, son dropped from RR case

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Sep 08, 2014 23:20 IST

Controversial arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie and son Bhanu, who were arrested in February by officials investigating allegations that Rolls-Royce had paid bribes for contracts in its overseas markets, had their bail lifted.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigating the case did not comment on lifting of the bail, but sources close to the case told HT that the bail was lifted in July. This means that they are no longer suspect in the case that relates to the company's sales in China and Indonesia.

The father-son duo was arrested in an early morning raid in February for allegedly acting as intermediaries for the company. The Choudhries, who have donated often to the Liberal Democrats party – one of the two ruling coalition partners in the David Cameron government – were released without conditions.

A spokesman for the Choudhries told HT on Monday: “The allegations against Bhanu and Sudhir Choudhrie are strongly denied. They have cooperated fully with the authorities.”

India-born Sudhir Choudhrie, who has been the focus of investigations in India for other allegations, was reportedly questioned over allegations that Rolls-Royce bribed Tommy Suharto, the son of Indonesia's former president General Suharto, to win a contract.

After SFO opened its investigation on 23 December 2013, John Rishton, Rolls-Royce Chief Executive, said: "I want to make it crystal clear that neither I nor the Board will tolerate improper business conduct of any sort and will take all necessary action to ensure compliance. This is a company with exceptional prospects and I will not accept any behaviour that undermines its future success".

The investigation was opened two days before last Christmas, but the allegations were made since 2006 by a whistleblower, former Rolls-Royce employee Dick Taylor, who posted comments below Rolls-Royce articles on several newspaper websites, including The Guardian.

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