New Delhi– The CBI on Friday registered a case against a UK-based NRI arms dealer, two foreign firms and some unknown Defence Ministry officials regarding alleged kickbacks in the purchase of three Embraer aircraft in a $210 million deal in 2008.

The FIR was registered against arms dealer Vipin Khanna, two private firms based in Brazil and Singapore, and some unknown Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials regarding the procurement of EMB-145 aircraft from Brazilian Embraer company, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson Devpreet Singh told IANS.

They were booked under charges of criminal conspiracy and Prevention of Corruption Act.

The officer said the CBI also conducted searches at certain premises of Khanna and others in Delhi on Thursday and recovered some incriminating documents.

Khanna, 87, is reportedly accused of receiving nearly $6 million from Embraer, the world’s third largest aircraft-maker, to broker the deal. It is alleged the payoffs were routed through Austria and Switzerland.

The CBI sources said the UK-based NRI’s name also figured in another defence deal probed by the agency. Khanna was probed by the CBI in connection with the oil-for-food scam in 2006, wherein his son Aditya Khanna was named the main beneficiary.

In its initial enquiry, the CBI found that the DRDO officials moved a proposal for purchase of the three aircraft from Embraer on a single vendor basis as a result of mediation by Khanna, and the firm secured the contract for supplying the aircraft.

The CBI official said that a purchase agreement was allegedly signed between Embraer and DRDO on July 3, 2008 for supply of three modified Embraer Aircraft EMB-145 for $210 million.

The deal was signed to build indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems for the Indian Air Force.

“In lieu of facilitating the agreement or deal between Embraer and DRDO, the firm paid an amount of $5.76 million to Khanna through a Singapore based company during 2009,” the official said.

The amount of $5.76 million was used by a private person to influence the officials of DRDO for the contract to supply the Embraer aircraft, the official said.

Leading Brazilian newspaper ‘Folha de Sao Paulo’ had also reported that Embraer allegedly paid commissions to Khanna to finalise the deal with India.

The CBI on September 16 registered a Preliminary Enquiry in the case on a reference from the Defence Ministry over accusations that Embraer employed an agent to facilitate various contracts for AEW&C project with DRDO for procurement of three fully modified EMB-145 aircraft.

The agency converted the Preliminary Enquiry into a First Information Report (FIR) after it collected enough evidence to show illegalities in the Embraer aircraft deal, the sources said.

The first aircraft was delivered in 2011 and the remaining two in 2013. (IANS)

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