Embraer deal probe: CBI questions alleged middleman Vipin Khanna
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has recorded the statement of businessman Vipin Khanna in connection with its probe in the case of payment of alleged commission by aircraft maker Embraer to clinch the USD 208-million deal with India.
The agency is probing the alleged payment of USD 5.70 million (Rs 38 crore) as commission to seal the deal.
CBI sources said that the kickbacks were paid in 2009 through subsidiaries of Embraer via a Singapore-based company which is owned by the middleman. It is alleged that payoffs were routed through Austria and Switzerland.
They agency had registered a preliminary enquiry in September 2016, and converted it into a regular FIR a month later as enough prima facie material had been found by it to proceed in the case.
The deal for three aircraft, which were to be used by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for air-borne radar systems, was inked with Embraer in 2008.
DRDO had purchased three aircraft from the company and customized them for serving are air-borne radar system known as airborne early-warning and control systems or AWACS for the Indian Air Force.
According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in defence deals.
They said Khanna, who is a suspect in the FIR registered by the CBI, was also asked about his alleged links with people whom he is understood to have approached to influence the deal.
The agency has received records from the United States about the deal. On the basis of these documents, the CBI also asked Khanna to clarify the money trail of the alleged commission.
Embraer has been under investigation by the US Justice Department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised suspicions, the report said.
The sources said 87-year-old Khanna might be called again in connection with its probe.
Leading Brazilian newspaper 'Folha de Sao Paulo' had reported that that the company had allegedly taken the services of middlemen to clinch deals in Saudi Arabia and India.
The company allegedly paid commissions to a UK-based defence agent to finalise the deal with Indi, the newspaper had reported.
After the CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry, Embraer had said in a statement, "Since 2011, Embraer has publicly reported that it has been conducting an extensive internal investigation and cooperating with the authorities on investigations regarding alleged violations of the FCPA.
"The company voluntarily expanded the scope of the investigation, systematically reporting the progress of the case to the market.
"The company is not party of the legal proceedings in Brazil. Therefore, it does not have access to the information contained therein," it had said.
(With PTI inputs)