File Photo: Abhishek Verma
The CBI is examining documents that cast a shadow over one of the army's biggest contracts - a deal to replace 64,000 INSAS assault rifles that's worth a billion dollars or Rs 5.5 crores.
Among the five contenders is US arms manufacturer Sig Sauer, which used to be represented in India by Anca Neacsu, who is in jail along with her husband, controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma.
Documents being studied by the CBI and accessed by NDTV suggest that Sig Sauer paid Mr Verma a 10 per cent commission through a complex matrix of front companies for all arms deals in India, including a kickback of 50,000 dollars allegedly for a VIP. A government official referred to as "VIP" in emails exchanged between Mr Verma, Ms Neascu and associates. The CBI says the money was wired on July 29, 2011 and reached Mr Verma via a circuitous route of multiple shell companies.
The bribe was, according to the CBI, intended to ensure that the "VIP" removed from government records an anonymous complaint about Sig Sauer filed in the context of another contract, which could have led in the company being blacklisted and eliminated from consideration for the billion dollar INSAS assault rifles deal, for which it is now in the running.
Investigators claim that separately, a trail for 125,000 dollars establishes that Mr Verma and his partners were paid for helping Sig Sauer land on the shortlist for a tender to supply rifles for state police forces via the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). These payments violate the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) and India's Integrity Pact.
Sig Sauer did not respond to NDTV's repeated attempts to reach them for comment. Gaurav Chandok, the lawyer for Mr Verma and his wife, said he did not wish to comment on the allegations.
Mr Verma and his wife allegedly managed to have parts of the Home Ministry shot on hidden camera; the videos were submitted over the internet on June 24, 2011 to the arms manufacturer as proof of its access to government officials. This violates the OSA (Official Secrets Act).