New Delhi / New York:
File Photo: Abhishek Verma
Through hundreds of documents now being investigated by the CBI, and accessed by NDTV, startling new details are emerging of how arms dealer Abhishek Verma, his wife Anca Neacsu, and their partners brazenly worked the system.
Emails that the CBI believes were written by Mr Verma reveal him accessing and exploiting top-secret defence information. He also claimed he was paying bribes to government officials, and had interactions with officials in the Defence Ministry and the Indian armed forces, to ensure that rifles, carbines and pistols manufactured by US defence manufacturer Sig Sauer were pushed onto shortlists for contracts worth millions of dollars.
NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the emails.
NDTV reported earlier this week that the CBI says it has found evidence that a kickback of $50,000 was transferred by Sig Sauer through a matrix of front companies to Mr Verma. This bribe was meant for a government official referred to in emails by Mr Verma and his partners as "VIP."
At stake was a multi-crore deal for sniper rifles for the Indian Army.
"VIP" was to be paid for removing an anonymous complaint filed against Sig Sauer's 716 assault rifle. If that complaint had been recognized, Sig Sauer would have been blacklisted, making it ineligible for not just this deal, but for the billion dollar contract to replace the Army's INSAS rifle, for which the manufacturer is still in the running.
In an email dated July 23 2011, Mr Verma told his associates that the anonymous compliant, received by the Defence Ministry, warned of audacious irregularities in how the SIG assault rifles had been conducted in the United States by Indian Army officers.
According to the complaint, SIG had hired a firing range for the trials but army officials did not reach it on time. Listing the contents of the compliant, Mr Verma writes, "The range wasn't available the second day therefore firing was done at 300 metres distance and the same results were extrapolated for 800 meters and SIG weapon passed."
Mr Verma tells his partners and wife that the complaint also said, "The officers who went to USA were looked after and 1 of the officer's wife was taken shopping!"
The complainant said these malpractices meant that Sig Sauer should be dropped from the competition. Worried about the consequences, Mr Verma wrote if the defence official in charge "takes cognizance of the anonymous complaint... then the entire deal would be scrapped and re-tendered.
In the same email, Mr Verma shared with his partners highly classified information on how other manufacturers had fared in the trials, which means he accessed a top-secret army report.
In an email dated July 26, 2011, Mr Verma outlined the urgent need for the bribe for "VIP." He asked for $50,000 to be wired "tomorrow, Tuesday or Wednesday" for 'business development' in India and this cannot be delayed a day as each day counts."
The same day, an account was opened at JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York and $51,000 was deposited into the account.. A few days later, on August 2, 2011, an email from Mr Verma's colleague, C Edmonds Allen, confirmed that the transfer to Ganton, Mr Verma's company, was complete.