Congress slams Centre over Ukrainian deal on AN-32 aircraft: Here is a roundup of the charges and political reactions

The Congress has launched a scathing attack on the central government on allegations of kickbacks in a deal between a Ukranian state-run company and the Indian defence ministry. This is the second time, recently, that the Congress has questioned the central government over a defence deal — the earlier instance being the Rafale deal.

The controversy broke out after Ukraine sought India's help to probe alleged $2.6 million kickbacks paid to a marketing firm in an agreement between Ukrainian state-run Spetstechnoexport and the Ministry of Defence. The agreement pertains to purchases of spares for IAF's AN-32 transport planes, and it was signed on 26 November, 2014.

The accusations

According to a report in The Indian Express, Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Bureau suspects the involvement of Indian defence ministry officials.

The report states that anti-corruption authorities in Ukraine have sent a request for assistance to the Indian government. The request, sent on 13 February, seeks identification of officials who participated in the negotiation and implementation of the contract.

The Times of India quotes Ukranian officials as saying that about 11 months after the signing of the agreement, Spetstechnoexport signed a contract with a little-known entity named Global Marketing SP. The agreement was "to provide services related to the implementation" of the November 2014 contract. According to the report, $2.6 million were transferred to Global Marketing SP's account in UAE, when the November 2014 was yet to be completely executed.

File image of an AN-32 aircraft. News18

File image of an AN-32 aircraft. News18

"Despite the fact that the terms of the agreement (between Global and Spetstechnoexport) had not been actually fulfilled, on August 13, 2015, October 20, 2015 and April 5, 2016, the parties signed the statements of completion (and) Spetstechnoexport transferred $2.6 million of budget funds to the account of Global Marketing opened in the United Arab Emirates," the letter from Ukraine to the Indian government says.

The anti-corruption body of Ukraine has sought information, if the Indian officials know, on the involvement of Global Marketing in the "conclusion and/or implementation of the contract" and Global Marketing's involvement in the signing of "supplementary agreements".

Official stand

On Thursday, the defence ministry said that the statements made in the media report which highlighted the issue were 'misleading.'

"It is informed that MoD or IAF has neither interacted nor signed any agreement with Global Marketing SP Ltd, nor were any such agreements witnessed. IAF has also confirmed that Global Marketing SP Ltd has not participated in any of the meetings held towards finalisation of the contract dated 26 November, 2014 with STE Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

A Press Information Bureau (PIB) release stated, "Embassy of Ukraine in India had sent a request to MHA and MEA, Govt. of India dated 6 March, 2018 for legal assistance in investigation of a criminal case filed against officials of Ukraine Government’s State Owned Enterprise (STE). This is as per international treaty between India and Ukraine. This request contains a list of questions to be answered. There are no allegations against any Indian government official. The government of India has only been requested to render legal assistance."

Prominent reactions

This was how Congress president Rahul Gandhi questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central government on the allegations of kickbacks as reported in the media.

At a press conference on Thursday, Congress leader Manish Tewari also demanded that the government should come out with details of the contract and not sweep it under the carpet "as was the case" in the Rafale deal.

"There seems to be trouble in paradise, the Ministry of Defence," Tewari said, adding that the contract for the AN-32 spares was signed in November 2014 during the tenure of the BJP-led NDA government.

Tewari raised five questions over the defence deal and sought the reply of the government saying he hoped that it would "not sweep the matter under the carpet".

Tewari sought to know whether it is a fact that the terms of contract were not fulfilled and the ministry of defence signed a statement of completion which facilitated the transfer of the alleged illegal gratification.

"This is actually the nub of the entire issue and the government must respond. What has been the response so far of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence to the request of the Ukrainian government?" he said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was not aware of any letter to his ministry from Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NAB) regarding alleged kickbacks.

"Aisa koi mamla mere saamne abhi tak nahi aya hai (no such matter has come to me so far)," Singh told reporters in Bhopal.


With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 16:26:00 IST

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