New Delhi: Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, believed to be one of the major players in the Bofors scam, has died. Reports say he died of a heart attack in Milan on Friday night. His funeral will take place on Monday.
Mr Quattrocchi's son Massimo has business links with India and sources say he visited India in the last 10 days.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had been trying to extradite Mr Quattrocchi to India but it lost two extradition appeals, first in Malaysia in 2002, and then in Argentina in 2007.
In 1986, Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors landed a $15 billion (Rs 1500 crore) contract to supply Howitzer guns to India. Mr Quattrocchi, once considered a friend of the Gandhi family, allegedly served as the middleman in a deal that saw massive kickbacks allegedly paid by the company to Indian politicians and defence officials.
After reports in the international media a year later that the company had paid massive kickbacks, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assured Parliament that was not the case. However, the Bofors scandal cost him the general election in 1989.
In 1990, when the BJP-led NDA was in power, the CBI filed a complaint in the case. The charges against him included serving as a conduit for bribes. Others named in the CBI case included Mr Quattrocchi's wife, Maria, and Win Chadha, who was Bofors' representative in India. Mr Chadha died in 2001. (Read: Quattrocchi a ghost created by BJP, says Congress)
Mr Quattrocchi left India in 1993 to avoid being arrested. In March 2011, a Delhi court allowed the CBI to close its criminal case against him after the investigating agency submitted that it had not been able to get Mr Quattrocchi extradited to India. (Watch: Indian courts cleared me in Bofors case, Quattrocchi told NDTV in 2006)