New Delhi: The CBI has filed a case and named NRI defence consultant Vipin Khanna as a key accused investigating the $208-million aircraft deal signed with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer during the previous UPA rule. The CBI on Friday said that it has registered an First Information Report (FIR) to probe allegations of kickbacks in the purchase of three Embraer aircraft in a $208 million deal inked in 2008.
The Central government had asked the CBI to investigate reports that Embraer had hired a UK-based Indian middleman to push the deal in 2009. Vipin Khanna (87) is accused of receiving nearly $6-million from Embraer, the world’s third largest aircraft maker, to broker the deal. The deal involved the purchase of three aircraft equipped with indigenous radars for Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems. The first aircraft was delivered in 2011 and the remaining two in 2013.
“We have registered an FIR in the case, and we have started investigation,” said Central Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Devpreet Singh. On September 17, the CBI registered a preliminary enquiry on a reference from the Defence Ministry over allegations related to Embraer employing an agent to facilitate various contracts.
Questions were raised in 2010 after the US Justice Department started investigating Embraer for alleged payment of bribes to secure contracts in various countries. The investigation began when a contract between Embraer and the Dominican Republic raised suspicion. The investigation was later expanded to business dealings with eight other countries.
Embraer issued a statement after the CBI started investigating the deal in September, “Since 2011, Embraer has publicly reported that it has been conducting an extensive internal investigation and cooperating with the authorities.”