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Govt denies giving clean chit to Quattrocchi

Centre said it had only furnished Britain information on the basis of which two London bank accounts were revived.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 23:14 IST

The Indian Government on Monday denied it had given a clean chit to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused in the Bofors payoffs scandal.

The Government of India said it had only furnished Britain information on the basis of which his two London bank accounts were revived.

"No clean chit has been given to anyone in any case. Confusion has been spread in this regard," Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal told the BBC Hindi service.

The British authorities "had sought information on...whether any charge has been proved till now. It is our compulsion to answer a query on the basis of facts as they exist on the day information has been sought. How can one say that a clean chit has been given to anyone?" Jaiswal maintained.

Law Minister HR Bharadwaj and Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachauri have been under fire from the Opposition since it was revealed last week they had facilitated the London visit of Additional Solicitor General B Dutta.

His visit was organised to inform the Crown Prosecution Service that there was no evidence to show that the kickbacks paid by Bofors to secure an Indian Army order for field guns had been deposited in Quattrocchi's accounts.

Dutta had visited London on December 22 and Quattrocchi's bank accounts were revived on January 11.

On Monday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that has been prosecuting the Bofors case, attempted to take the heat off the government by saying it had recommended that Quattrocchi's accounts be revived.

According to Jaiswal, "information sought by the British authorities was with regard to money frozen in British banks. It was asked whether any proof had been found (about the money being part of the Bofors kickbacks) and should this money continue to be frozen.

"The status as it existed on the day of giving information has been conveyed to the British authorities. No clean chit has been given to anyone in any manner, neither has anything been said on whether Quattrocchi is innocent or guilty," Jaiswal said.

Asked why the government prevented the CBI from sending its representative along with the additional solicitor general, Jaiswal retorted: "I think questions should not be raised on everything.

"If the government does not respond on time, your criticism would be that we sleep over matters, if we respond then the criticism is of undue haste.

"Criticism in a democracy is a matter of right, but everything should not be seen with suspicion," he said.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 14:19 IST