New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigations on Saturday registered a case against unknown officials of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Ministry of Defence, arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and Switzerland-based company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd in procurement of 75 Pilatus basic trainer aircraft in 2009. Besides, the probe agency also conducted raids at the residence and office of Bhandari in connection with the deal. Bhandari is already being investigated for allegedly buying a benami house for Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra in London.

On November 11, 2016, a preliminary inquiry was registered into the matter during which it was recovered that a request of proposal was issued by IAF on December 16, 2009 for procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft and Pilatus Aircrafts Ltd was one of the bidders, the probe agency stated.”A case was registered against Bhandari and Bimal Darren, both directors of Offset India Solutions Pvt Ltd, as well as officials of Swiss-based plane-maker Pilatus Aircraft Ltd over alleged irregularities in procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft in 2009 on Wednesday,” a senior CBI official said.

The CBI claimed that the company had entered into a criminal conspiracy with Bhandari and Bimal Sareen, both directors of Offset India Solutions Private Limited, and dishonestly and fraudulently signed a Service Provider Agreement with Bhandari in June 2010, which was in violation of the Defence Procurement Procedure, 2008. It was allegedly done to get the contract for supply of 75 basic Trainer Aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

The probe agency alleged that the company made a payment of CHF 1,000,000 in the account of Offset India Solution Private Limited with the Standard Chartered Bank, New Delhi in two tranches in August and October, 2010. In addition, Rs 350 crore was also transferred in Swiss Francs from 2011 to 2015 in the bank accounts of Dubai-based Offset India Solutions FZC, also belonging to Bhandari.

“Pilatus dishonestly and fraudulently signed a Pre- Contract Integrity Pact on November 12, 2010 with the Defence Ministry, deliberately concealing the facts about service provider agreement with Bhandari”, the CBI claimed.

About Trainer Aircraft

The planes which are used to teach cadets to fly when they join the air force are known as trainer aircraft. The Air Force had decided to purchase the Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II after the indigenous HTP-32 was grounded due to repeated failures.

(With agency inputs)