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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Bofors charges against Hindujas
Bofors guns were used during the Kargil conflict with Pakistan
Bofors guns were used during the Kargil conflict with Pakistan
By Abhishek Prabhat in Delhi

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has charged three London-based businessmen - the billionaire Hinduja brothers - for their alleged role in the long-running multi-million-dollar Bofors scandal.

The charges pertain to the purchase of 400 155mm Howitzer field guns by India from the Swedish arms firm, AB Bofors, in 1986.

Just a year after the purchase, allegations surfaced that prominent politicians and bureaucrats were bribed by the company to clinch the deal.

Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi: Name linked with Bofors scandal
The CBI has named the Hinduja brothers among those who accepted the bribe.

In a charge sheet filed before a Delhi court, the agency accused London-based Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand Hinduja of cheating and corruption.

The agency alleged that the Hinduja brothers were paid more than $8m at present rates by Bofors for their contribution in clinching the deal.

Indian law bans commissions in defence deals.

Confidential documents

The CBI claimed its charges were based on confidential bank documents that a Swiss federal court released to India.

These documents are supposed to be related to accounts in which the Hinduja brothers allegedly deposited the kickback money.

But they have said that funds they received from AB Bofors had nothing to do with the company winning a contract to supply weapons to the Indian army.

The court will begin hearing arguments on 20 November.

These will mainly centre around whether there is enough evidence to try the Hindujas and others charged earlier.

Among those previously linked to the scandal was the late former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi - whose widow Sonia Gandhi heads India's main opposition Congress party.

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See also:

16 Dec 99 | South Asia
India handed arms scam papers
22 Oct 99 | South Asia
Rajiv Gandhi in arms scam charges
27 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sacked Indian minister's charges
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