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The New Instalment Of The Bofor's Soap Opera!

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The New Instalment Of The Bofor's Soap Opera!
#1
<span style='color:blue'><span style='font-family:Times'>The thread “<i>Natwar Singh and The Hindu Parallax</i>” was started mainly to highlight the biases in the Indian media establishment. It may sound cynical but stories about political corruption are passé. Although the Natwar Singh story was a provocation, you would have observed that <i>the Bofor</i>’s saga occupied a large part of the article. None expected that the next instalment of the <i>soap opera</i> would unfold so soon.

The Indian public was shocked by the unfolding <i>Bofor</i>’s story when it did, as, in 1987, the sum of Rs 64 Cr (64 followed by seven zeroes) was beyond the ken of ordinary people’s imagination. Today, in hindsight, it appears minuscule in the light of other scams. For e.g., it pales into insignificance before the Rs 900 Cr (i.e. 900 followed by seven zeroes) worth of <i>fodder</i> (<i>fodder </i>here is not used as a metaphor as in <i>cannon fodder</i> but literally to mean <i>fodder</i>) which, one of the messiahs of social justice gobbled to <i>hatao </i>his own <i>garibi</i>.

<span style='color:red'>But the anxiety with which the dynasty’s courtiers (euphemism for psychophants and guttersnipes) rush up to protect the <i>Italian dowager</i>’s family and friends unerringly points the needle of suspicion! If a foreign minister was used as an errand boy earlier, the law minister is the tool this time. He knows better than the CBI. <i>Quattrochi</i> should not be inconvenienced. His acquittal takes time but don’t you worry. It will be done. It will be done! For what use is the government if it does not protect the<i> famiglia</i>?

The <i>dynasty</i> follows time-honoured conventions in rewarding loyalty nay doglike devotion of its <i>domestic help </i>while consigning others that fail to measure up in - doglike devotion - to the doghouse! The late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao forfeited his privilege of a cremation or a monument in the capital to which even the <i>dynasty</i>’s puppies are entitled to as he failed to pay obeisance in the court of the <i>Italian dowager</i>.

As you will doubtless remember the LM was rewarded, true to the <i>dynasty</i>’s code of honour, for his committed judicial pronouncements. Just as an election commissioner was rewarded for delaying the <i>Kargil </i>election with a <i>Rajya Sabha</i> seat.

If you feel there is an urgent need to evolve a convention or the enactment of a law barring high constitutional functionaries like judges and members of the election commission from accepting elective office, post retirement - forget it. The function of parliament is to undo resolutions against the <i>dynasty</i>.

All this makes fodder - not of the social justice variety - but for good old <i>Geoffrey</i>’s fiction factory. Again it may sound cynical, but it makes interesting bedtime reading, for nothing changes. So enjoy reading it again!</span></span></span>
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#2
Don't unlock Quattrocchi accounts: Supreme Court
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal directed that the government should take steps to maintain the status quo and ensure that the frozen accounts are not unlocked.

The court added that if they had been unlocked, the government should ensure that no money is withdrawn from the account.

'It is in the interest of the nation,' the court said.
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Rediff news on Bofors
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#3
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Loot of India </b>
The Pioneer Edit Desk
Public memory being notoriously short, few would recall today that it was Congress Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao who, after the Government of India was informed by Swiss authorities that kickbacks from the Bofors deal had been deposited in Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts, had facilitated the Italian wheeler-dealer's escape literally in the cover of the night.

<b>Today, we are witness to another Congress Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, helping Mr Quattrocchi to walk away with more than $4 million of tax-payers' money by allowing his Government to brazenly subvert the judicial process. If his Congress predecessor let Mr Quattrocchi slip out of India instead of impounding his passport to keep Ms Sonia Gandhi, who was then in political purdah, in good humour, Mr Singh has allowed the Italian fugitive to loot the Indian exchequer to please his political boss who now runs the party and heads the United Progressive Alliance. </b>

This is no act of omission, nor is it true that the Prime Minister was blissfully ignorant of his Law Minister despatching the Additional Solicitor General to London to plead with the Crown Prosecution Service to de-freeze Mr Quattrocchi's accounts, that were frozen in July 2003. This despite an Interpol red alert for this personal friend of the Congress's first family who is wanted in India to stand trial in the Bofors bribery case.

<b>On the contrary, the very fact that this Government knew of the British authorities' decision to de-freeze the account on January 11, the same day the story of this stunning scandal broke in media, and yet did not bother to prevent Mr Quattrocchi's robbery, speaks volumes about his complicity. Mr Singh's silence on the issue is no evidence of his innocence; this is the silence of a man who is guilty of compromising the Government of India's integrity to appease the power behind the throne.</b>

By refusing to speak up and be heard he has not come across as a helpless but honourable man; he looks like a pathetic caricature who is willing to go to any extent to do the bidding of Ms Gandhi in order to cling on to the Prime Minister's office to which his disregard for probity and rectitude has fetched dishonour. He clings on to Ms Gandhi, turning a willing blind eye to gross abuse of power, in this instance to enrich her Italian friend with more than Rs 20 crore that belongs to the Indian people.

The Supreme Court, while admitting a PIL against what is easily the biggest scandal in recent years, on Monday has asked the Government and the CBI to maintain status quo on Mr Quattrocchi's London accounts.

It has also instructed the Government to ensure that the money is not withdrawn. Such instructions, no matter how well-intentioned, have come rather late in the day. We can take it for granted that between January 11 and January 16, Mr Quattrocchi has emptied the two accounts where the Bofors payola was parked, and is sniggering at those who tried to prosecute him. There can be no halfway house after this officially sanctioned loot of the nation. The Prime Minister must be made accountable and his cronies with whom he conspired at the behest of Ms Gandhi should be held responsible. This country is not run by the Sicilian Mafia.
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#4
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Bhardwaj, the latest exorcist</b> 
Pioneer
A Surya Prakash 
AB Bofors, the Swedish arms manufacturing company from which we purchased field guns for our Army in the mid-1980s, paid Ms Sonia Gandhi's friend Ottavio Quattrocchi $7.30 million as commission for facilitating the Bofors-India deal. This sum was paid to a front company called AE Services, which in turn transferred the funds to Swiss bank accounts operated by Maria and Ottavio Quattrocchi. These are facts that are well established and fully corroborated by bank documents obtained by Indian investigators from Switzerland.

That is why the ghost of Bofors returns every now and then to haunt the Nehru-Gandhis. Instead of acknowledging Quattrocchi's role as a middleman and offering a public apology for having such friends, the family has hired many an exorcist - B Shankaranand, Madhavsinh Solanki, HR Bhardwaj, et al., - to exorcise this ghost. However, all of them have failed because the Swiss bank documents and the proceedings before the Swiss courts clearly establish the nexus between the Bofors payments and the Quattrocchis.

Law Minister HR Bhardwaj's clean chit to Ottavio Quattrocchi is only the latest attempt to exonerate the Italian businessman and thereby snap the link between the payments and the Nehru-Gandhi family. The family has tried unsuccessfully in the past to achieve this objective. The first attempt was made soon after Swedish Radio broke the story about bribes paid by Bofors to secure the India contract. As the news paralysed Parliament and Congress MPs themselves began doubting the vehement denials by their leader, Rajiv Gandhi agreed to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.

This gesture, however, failed to carry conviction because the JPC's terms of reference were wholly inadequate. Further, Rajiv hand-picked Shankaranand, a family loyalist, to head the JPC. Disappointed with the Government's response, the Opposition boycotted the committee. The Congress party made the best of the boycott, packed the committee with sycophants and secured a report from this crony committee that no commissions or bribes had been paid by Bofors. Shankaranand declared that there were no middlemen or agents.

The media soon uncovered middlemen and commissions. Quattrocchi was among those who had been paid by Bofors. There were other commission agents like Win Chaddha but Quattrocchi was special. He was a dear friend of the Gandhis. A fresh attempt was made to bury the scandal after PV Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister in 1991. Madhavsinh Solanki, the External Affairs Minister in that Government, handed over a note to his Swiss counterpart ostensibly containing a request from the Indian Government to retard the investigations into the Bofors' payoffs. When this became public, Prime Minister Rao denied having cleared the note and Solanki lost his job in the Cabinet.

Ms Gandhi's Italian friends Maria and Ottavio Quattrocchi have been a source of embarrassment for the Nehru-Gandhi family and for the Congress party for many decades. He represented the Italian firm Snam Progetti in India and barring a couple of years stayed in India for almost three decades from 1964. He flew out of the country in haste in 1993 after it was conclusively established that Bofors had paid him a hefty commission for clinching the India deal.

Persons who have held portfolios like Chemicals and Fertilisers and Petroleum in the Union Cabinet when the Congress party was in power have had to cope with this ill-mannered Italian who brazenly flaunted his connection with the Gandhi family and swung deals in favour of the company he represented. On one occasion, a Minister who held the Chemicals and Fertilisers portfolio in the Rajiv Gandhi Government had to ask Quattrocchi to leave when the latter barged into his residence without an appointment. Quattrochi, the story goes, threatened to teach the Minister a lesson for the "insult" heaped on him. Within weeks the Minister lost his job.

It was, therefore, not at all surprising to find that Quattrocchi had knocked off a hefty commission in the Bofors deal. Initially, when the Rajiv Gandhi Government invited bids and asked the Army to conduct field trials, the main contenders for the contract were Sofma of France, AB Bofors of Sweden and Voest Alpine of Austria. Sofma was in the lead for much of the two-year period when the Army was evaluating the guns but Bofors got ahead in the final stages and won the contract in March, 1986. A year later, Swedish Radio broke the story about payment of bribes by Bofors. Rajiv Gandhi's political stock nose-dived when the scandal broke out primarily because of his unwillingness to have the bribery charge investigated by a commission or agency that was trusted by his accusers.

The conclusions drawn by the Shankaranand JPC were debunked in no time by the media which hit upon evidence to prove that Bofors had paid commissions to several individuals to secure the contract. Quattorocchi was among the recipients and what was intriguing was the manner in which he suddenly came into the picture to lick the cream off the Bofors cake. As stated earlier, the French gun Sofma was clearly the favourite to win the contract. Suddenly, at this stage a queer thing happened. A company called AE Services came on the scene in November, 1985 and entered into a strange contract with Bofors.

This contract guaranteed AE Services three per cent commission if the India contract was concluded before March 31, 1986. The contract was signed on March 24, 1986 - a week before the expiry of this deadline. Two months later, India paid Bofors 20 per cent of the contracted sum and the company promptly transferred US $7.343 million (equivalent of three per cent of the amount paid by India) to the AE Services Account in Nordfinanz Bank, Zurich. Investigators following the AE Services trail found that the commission from Bofors had been transferred by this company to the Swiss bank account operated by Maria and Ottavio Quattrocchi in the name of Colbar Investments.

On August 6, 1987, when the Lok Sabha decided on a parliamentary probe into the payoffs, the Quattrocchis transferred these funds to yet another bank account operated by them. Once the Indian investigators laid their hands on these bank documents, the Quattrocchis took to their heels. Thereafter the Interpol put out a red alert for Ottavio Quattrocchi. CBI officials who raided the offices and residence of the Quattrocchis came up with substantial evidence to establish the close nexus between the Quattrocchis and the Gandhis.

Only a person who had such a close relationship with the Prime Minister could have guaranteed Bofors that he would clinch the deal within five months and also fulfill this promise one week before the deadline. The Bofors-AE Services contract is so damning that persons associated with Quattrocchi owe India an explanation. Ms Gandhi must tell us why her friend Quarrtocchi was paid US $7.3 million by Bofors when we purchased field guns for our Army when her husband was the country's Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Law Minister HR Bhardwaj's assertion that there is no case against Quattrocchi must be challenged. The Bofors case has seen gross political interference and put a question mark on constitutional principles like rule of law and equality before law. Should we allow foreigners like Quattrocchi and his friends and sympathisers in the Congress party and the Union Government to make a mockery of our legal/ judicial system? Will our Constitution and the political system survive such onslaughts? This is a matter that deserves the most immediate attention of the judiciary.

<b>The latest attempt via the Law Minister should surely set aside doubts in the minds of some congress supporters about the Quattrocchi-Sonia connection. Those who have been tracking the Bofors Payoffs Scandal have often warned that bailing out Quattrocchi would be a top priority for Ms Sonia Gandhi once she got political power in her hands. We can now see that she is on the job. But the media has its job cut out too. It must probe why Ms Gandhi is so keen to bail out Quattrochi. </b>
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#5
Shameless Manmohan Singh waits full week *and* Quattrochi to empty his London accounts before he spoke out. The corrupt ways of Congress is phenomenal.
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#6
It was well planned move by Sonia. And media played very important role by not exposing this issue and still quiet.

This is well executed job by Sonia and her cronies. One more feather on her crown.
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#7
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Nation taken for a ride
Navin Upadhyay/ New Delhi
CBI aids Govt in cover-up --- Ottavio Quattrocchi has once again taken for a ride the Indian law enforcement agencies, judiciary, media, political system, governance - and the entire nation.   

The Italian businessman who figures as a middleman in the Bofors payoff scandal, has reportedly mopped up the entire bribery amount of more than four million dollars deposited in his two London bank accounts, which were defrozen following UPA Government's clean chit to him before the British prosecution.

As Mr Q's well-wishers and old links in the Congress and Government blinked while the controversy raged, the man on Tuesday cleared his accounts, pre-empting Supreme Court's intervention in the matter, which was followed by a major volte-face by the CBI and the Prime Minister finally breaking his silence.

Directing that steps should be taken to maintain status quo on Quattrocchi's accounts, frozen in July 2003 on the Indian Government's request, a Bench comprising Chief Justice YK Sabharwal, Justice CK Thakker and Justice RV Raveendran said authorities should rise to see that amounts should not be withdrawn if already defrozen.

In a virtual rebuff to the Government, the court said "if they (Centre and CBI) are of the view that the pending cases be dropped against Quattrocchi, obviously they should have gone to the criminal court (where the trial is pending)."

"Till further order we direct the Centre and CBI to take necessary steps for maintenance of status quo on accounts in question so that the defreezing of accounts does not take place," the court said.

As an outraged nation watched the way tax-payers money was allowed to be siphoned off, the CBI stepped in to provide some much-needed cover for the Government. In a bombshell 'disclosure', the CBI on Monday claimed its Additional Solicitor General B Datta went to London in connection with the Bofors case at its directive and neither the Law Ministry nor the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had any role to play.
 
"Neither the DoPT nor the Law Ministry has any role to play in sending the Additional Solicitor General to London," CBI Joint Director AK Majumdar told reporters here.

"This is purely a CBI decision and Crown Prosecution of London only communicates with CBI," he said.

It is anybody's guess that the CBI was once again manipulated and coerced to own up the sins of its masters. Earlier the same CBI was quoted as saying that the Law Ministry sent Mr Datta to Britain on the defreeze issue. The flip-flop was a clear attempt to give a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who heads the DoPT, which controls the CBI.

A few hours later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh read out the same script. The identical nature of the two statements made it obvious that a massive cover-up exercise has been undertaken in a bid to establish that the Government as such had no role in giving a clean chit to Mr Q - something few will willing to buy knowing his alleged past association with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

<b>Breaking his weeklong silence on the entire drama, the Prime Minister said his Government had no role in defreezing the accounts. Ignoring the facts that the CBI came under the domain of the PMO, Mr Manmohan Singh said, "Neither the freezing was done under Government order nor has the unfreezing (of Quattrocchi's accounts) been done under Government's order".</b>

"These matters are exclusively under functional jurisdiction of CBI in which the Government does not interfere," Mr Singh said addressing a Press conference in Guwahati.

"All steps in this matter are in accordance with the established standard procedure. The autonomy of the CBI will be preserved under this Government at all costs," he asserted.

"Action relating to both freezing and unfreezing of these accounts have been taken at the level of the CBI in consultation with law officials as per established procedures," he said. But after the way the UPA Government forced CBI's hand in Satish Sharma and Mayawati's cases, the Prime Minister's lofty sermon on the agency's "free working" would only provoke laughter.

The Prime Minister did not answer many questions that point to the complicity and culpability of his Government in the whole episode. Neither did he explain how the decision to give a clean chit to Mr Q was legal even though criminal cases were pending against him in Indian courts.

Mr Singh spoke after the apex court's intervention in the matter, and one would have expected him to take note of the apex court's directive to the Government to ensure that accounts were not defrozen and Mr Q not allowed to withdraw his money. Implicit in the directive was the loud message that prima facie, the court had taken serious view of the matter and was going to deliberate on its legality in the coming days. But the Prime Minister obviously did not get the message.
 
So, he did not speak a word on what action he was going to initiate against Law Minister HR Bhardwaj who had gone on record associating himself with the decision to defreeze the accounts.

The Prime Minister was also silent on what steps he would take against MoS Suresh Pachauri who heads the DoPT, which had a direct role in clearing Datta's tour to the UK, and which had reportedly coordinated with the Law Ministry in drafting the response of the Government before the Crown Prosecution Service in London.
 
He also had no word to explain the inaction of his Government to stop the account from being defreezed even though a week has lapsed since the story first surfaced and created a political storm in the country.

But if the Prime Minister decided to brush off the burning questions, the apex court was not willing to provide him any comfort. It directed Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subaramanian to clarify the Government's stand on various issues, particularly relating to the question of defreezing Quattrocchi's bank accounts and on prosecuting the Italian in the Bofors case.

"We would like to know on the defreezing of Quattrocchi's bank account, if any steps have been taken by the Union of India and CBI," the Bench asked the ASG.
 
The Bench made it clear to the ASG that it was also seeking an answer whether the Centre and CBI wanted Quattrocchi's account to be defrozen. "If this was so, at whose instance, the defreezing of his account was being taken," it asked.

The directions and observations came after the Bench severely pulled up advocate Ajay Agarwal, who has challenged the alleged move of the Government before the Crown Prosecution Service, London, for defreezing of Quattrocchi's bank accounts.

At the outset, the Bench reminded him that his petition was based on media reports and why he has "unnecessarily" named Law Minister HR Bhardwaj and Additional Solicitor General B Dutta as the respondents.

"It is for the Government to come and satisfy the court," the Bench observed and warned him that he was "trying to politicise the issue by making Law Minister and ASG as unnecessary respondents," the Bench said.

The court also took strong exception to the conduct of Agarwal on the whole development before it particularly castigated him for not serving in advance the copy of the petition and application to the Centre and other respondents.

"We deprecate this practise of playing to the gallery," the Bench observed, referring to the two letters Agarwal wrote relating to the matter, which he gave to the office of Attorney General and Solicitor General at 11.40am on Monday, just before the hearing began.

<b>PTI/ London:</b> Britain's Crown Prosecution said on Monday that banks in the country were not bound by the Indian Supreme Court's direction to the Indian Government and CBI to ensure that Quattrocchi is not able to withdraw money from his two accounts in a bank here. Asked whether the Italian businessman would have withdrawn the money already, CPS spokeswoman Annabelle McMillan said, "we have no way of knowing it. Only the banks can reveal that." 
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#8
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Indian Express - Editorial
<b>Please join exit Q </b>
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
There are several things we don’t know about the latest twist — how many have there been! — in the Bofors scandal. We don’t know what was known by whom in the government and the Congress leadership, as the long arm of the law ministry reached out to give Ottavio Quattrocchi a helping hand in London. We don’t know, at this point, whether Quattrocchi and his money will finally be reunited. We don’t know why Quattrocchi said he has contributed to India’s industrial development (figuring that one out is a challenge for economists). But we do know this — Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj has never denied he lit the fire that may melt Quattrocchi’s bank account. And since the Supreme Court has directed that the status quo ante be restored in the matter, what option does that leave the law minister with? True, Bhardwaj saying he’s answerable to no one but the prime minister is an improvement on what Natwar Singh was saying before he was made to go. But that comparison itself damns the law minister.

More important, law ministers have to be especially sensitive to direct or implied strictures from courts, those from the highest court in particular. If they choose not to be, a crucial aspect of institutional integrity is lost. This requirement can’t be masked by political-administrative manoeuvres — in this case, the CBI suddenly recalling that sending the additional solicitor general to London was absolutely, completely, its own independent, considered decision, and that no minister had anything to do with it. The best that can be said about this is that it fails even the test of amoral politics. If the idea was to deflect responsibility, it should have been done earlier, not after days of Bhardwaj defending the decision and after government leaks describing ministerial involvement.

The bad planning may be a sign of greater official discomfiture than has been admitted. If that is the case, the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi should know that feeling better won’t come from doing nothing<b>. To remind them: Ottavio Quattrocchi did run away from Indian law, he is an Interpol ‘Wanted’ because of Indian requests and despite the sorry state of the Bofors case at present, it is not a closed book. If Quattrocchi ends up laughing his way to a Switzerland-headquartered bank, some people in official India will have to come to grief.</b>
www.indianexpress.com/ful...t_id=86037
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#9
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>U-turn: CBI says it cleared defreeze (TIMES NEWS NETWORK)</b>

[ Tuesday, January 17, 2006 02:17:09 am TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

NEW DELHI: In a spectacular pirouette, CBI on Monday claimed ownership of law ministry's controversial communication to UK's Crown Prosecution Service to allow defreezing of Bofors fugitive Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts, even as government and Congress brass seemed in a "brazen it out" mood on the issue.

The agency, which was earlier learnt to be deeply resentful of the communication signalling India's acquiescence to defreeze the Italian businessman's accounts, fully owned up to the stance conveyed by the law ministry.

By evening, PM Manmohan Singh had, breaking his silence over the matter, endorsed CBI's version. "It was CBI's decision, government has nothing to do with it," he maintained in Guwahati, according to reports reaching here.

The about-turn was announced at a press conference hurriedly called just after Supreme Court took exception to defreezing of Quattrocchi's London accounts holding millions, and asked for responsibility to be fixed in what was seen as a sign of deepening of government's troubles over the matter.

With the PM maintaining that due procedures had been followed in decisions leading to defreezing of Quattrocchi accounts and the Supreme Court directing the CBI to seek a status quo, there is a possibility of the apex court differing with the Centre's take on the events.

Both government and Congress have already indicated what their response will be if the court seeks further explanations on the Quattrocchi decision

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#10
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Plot to abet Q hatched many months back</b>
pioneer.com
Navin Upadhyay / New Delhi
Path taken could implicate many----- <b>The plot to facilitate Ottavio Quattrocchi defreeze his two London bank accounts holding the alleged Bofors kickbacks was hatched several months back. As the sequence of events show, both the CBI and the Law Ministry played a key role in rewarding fugitive Italian businessman with more than four million dollars of the Indian tax-payers' money.</b>

Legal experts feel that while the CBI may own up the sins of its master under pressure, the circumstances and facts of the case are strong enough for criminal prosecution of the people heading top posts in the UPA Government. <b>As the documents and facts come before the Supreme Court, they feel that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may find it difficult to defend his Government. </b>

Law Minister HR Bhardwaj may also face hurdles trying to save his chair even if he were to feign ignorance about the conspiratorial developments right under his nose as does the Prime Minister in most cases.

<b>To begin with, Mr Q's two London bank accounts were frozen on the basis of a Letter Rogatory (LR) issued by the trial court in India. When the CBI first requested British authorities and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to freeze Mr Q's accounts in 2003 following an Interpol tip off, the CPS made it clear that it could be done on the basis of legal directives. The CPS did agree to keep his accounts under temporary freeze, allowing time to the CBI to come up with a LR.</b>

The trial court, prima facie convinced that the two accounts held the tainted money, issued the LR, which the CBI submitted to the British prosecution, leading to a cap on Mr Q's accounts. Sources said even if the CBI wanted to tell the CPS that it did not possess evidences to link the deposits in the two bank accounts of Quattrocchi with the Bofors kickback money, they should have gone through the court that had issued the LR.

Former CBI director Joginder Singh also felt that the agency should have gone through the court. "Since the LR was issued by the court, I feel that the CBI should have taken the court's consent before giving any view on defreezing Quattrocchi's accounts. However, I don't know whether the procedure was followed or not," he told The Pioneer.

The Supreme Court observed the same on Tuesday while directing the Government to take steps to maintain status quo on Quattrocchi's accounts. "If they (Centre and CBI) are of the view that the case be dropped against him (Quattrocchi), obviously they should have gone to the criminal court (where the trial is pending)," the Court said.

However, such a move would have inevitably invited widespread publicity and brought tremendous political pressure on the Government. Hence the surreptitious act to bypass the court. The million dollar question is: was the CBI acting on its own or under pressure from the Law Ministry.

There are enough records to show that the Law Ministry under Mr Bhardwaj had a special interest in stonewalling any prosecution in the Bofors case. Law officers were responsible for CBI leaving uncontested the acquittal of Hinduja brothers by the Delhi High Court. The Law Ministry had refused to grant CBI permission to file a special leave petition against the Delhi High Court's order after detractor prosecution SK Sharma, a Law Ministry official wrote that "it will be travesty of justice" if the judgement was challenged.

Incidentally, the same ruling of the Delhi High Court, which the Law Ministry did not allow to be challenged in the Supreme Court, was used by Mr Q to get his accounts defreezed. "This is a clear cut case of conspiracy," said former law minister Ravishanker Prasad. "The pattern is very clear," he added.

But what takes the cake is the way Mr Bhardwaj himself, sounding more like an advocate for Mr Q, than the Law Minister of India, gave a clean chit to the fugitive Italian after CNN-IBN first broke the story of the move to defreeze the two accounts. "It was a temporary freeze, not a permanent freeze. Further, it was wrong to withhold someone's money in the absence of any evidence against him," Mr Bhardwaj had said. As, the nation subsequently learnt, Mr Dutta had conveyed the same views to the CPS.

However, Mr Bhardwaj should have known that CBI had filed a massive chargesheet against Mr Q. The court could not frames charges against him because he was an absconder. It was for the court to decide whether there was any link between the two bank deposits of Mr Q and the Bofors kickback, not for Mr Bhardwaj and his law officers. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
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#11
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Lies, lies and criminal conspiracy
Navin Upadhyay/ New Delhi
The Pioneer
January 19, 2006

Quattrocchi saga ---- With the disclosure by British Crown Prosecution Service
(CPS) that <b>it had received specific request from the Government of India</b> to
defreeze Ottavio Quattrocchi's two London bank accounts, the latest Bofors
controversy is becoming a tale of lies, lies and more lies.

A week after the story first created a political turmoil, the contours of the
conspiracy are<b> becoming clear and the Government squarely stands in the dock.</b>

What could be damning for the UPA Government is the disclosure that CPS could
have kept the tap on the two accounts indefinitely and that it had mounted no
pessure to defreeze them.

Experts feel that the suo motu initiative by the Law Ministry and subsequent
attempt at its concealment may qualify in the category of a criminal act.

"There was a clear intention to defreeze Quattrocchi's accounts. It looks like
some people in the Government connived in conferring a benefit to Quattrocchi,"
said former additional solicitor general KN Bhatt.

Former CBI director Joginder Singh was also baffled by the Indian authorities'
requests to defreeze Quattrocchi's accounts. "It looks a little strange. The
proper course could have been to go to the court, which had issued the Letters
Rogatory (LR) to freeze the accounts, and take an appropriate order from it.
The court's directive should have been have been conveyed to the CPS," he
said.

Mr Singh feels that as the case unfolds, the UPA Government may find itself in a
tight spot. "The Government and CBI will have to do some hard explaining to the
court to prove that everything was done in a bonafide manner," he said.

The latest disclosure by the CPS has shows that Mr Q's two London accounts could
have remained frozen indefinitely because there was no legally stipulated period
for such action.<b> Under the circumstances, it is anyone's guess why the Indian
authorities were hyper active in trying to reactivate the accounts.</b>

The travesty of truth started with Law Minister HR Bhardwaj saying that the
Crown Prosecution and the British Government had over the past two years Sought
evidence against Quattrocchi for keeping his accounts under freeze, and that "We
have conveyed to them the recent rulings of the Delhi High Court rejecting the
case against the Hinduja brothers, as well as the status of investigation."

The CPS e-mail of December 23 clearly shows that the Indian authorities through
the Law Ministry had made a specific request to defreeze Mr Q's accounts,
something which neither the CBI nor Mr Bhardwaj have admitted so far.

<b>Then came CBI's lie. The agency first claimed the Law Ministry had sent
Additional Solicitor General B Dutta to London to convey the status of the
cases against Quattrocchi. The same agency, then in a volte face, claimed that
the Law Ministry had no role in sending Mr Dutta to London.</b>

Then came the claim by Prime minister Manmohan Singh that his Government had no
role in defreezing Mr Q's accounts and the case was handled by the CBI on its
own. But the CPS e-mail to CBI and B Dutta on December 25 put a question mark
on the credibility of the Prime Minister's assertion. The e-mail stated that Mr
Dutta conveyed the instruction on behalf of the Government of India, the
Ministry of Law, and the CBI to defreeze Mr Q's accounts because it was
unlikely that his trial will proceed.

This was followed by a series of off-the-record and on-the-record briefing by
the CBI in which the agency claimed it had made no request to defreeze Mr Q's
accounts, and the CPS might have done it on being told that there was no
evidence to link the kickbacks money with the bank deposits. The CPS revelation
shows that the CBI was blatantly lying.

<b>There are enough indications that the CBI, the Law Minister and the Prime
Minister have tried to hide the facts.</b> This is going to deliver a major blow to
the UPA Government's commitment to fight corruption and provide a clean
government. At the same time, the fact the trial court which had issued the LR
was kept in the dark about defreezing the accounts could also land the
Government in major legal problems.

Experts feel that several people in the Government and CBI could be prosecuted
under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988) and the
Indian Penal Code.

The officials and members of the Government who connived with Quattrocchi could
be prosecuted under the following:
<b>
Section 13 under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (13-D) dealing with criminal
misconduct by a public servant.

Section 120 A of the Indian Penal Code when two or more persons agree to do, or
cause to be done an illegal act, or an act which is not illegal by illegal
means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy.

Section 107 of Indian Penal Code deals with abetment when a person who by wilful
misrepresentation, or by wilful concealment of a material fact which he is bound
to disclose, voluntarily causes or procures, or attempts to cause or procure, a
thing to be done, is said to instigate the doing of that thing.
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#12
http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?m...t&counter_img=1


Sonia's new voice

The Pioneer Edit Desk

All those who have expressed their sense of outrage over the stunning silence of the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson on the latest episode of the Bofors scam opera owe an apology to Mr Manmohan Singh and Ms Sonia Gandhi. The two have spoken in tandem - as they should - and removed all doubts that there may have been about their being in the know of the great heist that has left India's exchequer poorer by more than $4 million.

Mr Singh travelled all the way to Assam to inform a breathless nation that he does not bother with minor details like his Government facilitating the de-freezing of Italian fixer Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts, thus enabling him to walk away with a chunk of the bribe Bofors paid for its 1986 contract.

Since the Prime Minister neither issues orders to his colleagues nor meddles with the messy task of running the Government, he is totally ignorant and it is no use pointing fingers at him. After allowing a decent 24 hours for an incredulous nation to digest Mr Singh's astounding disclaimer - those given to uncharitable thoughts would describe it as sheer effrontery - Ms Gandhi has spoken her mind on an issue which, presumably she feels, is needlessly agitating the masses.

No, she has not spoken to the media directly, nor has she done so through either Ms Ambika Soni, who usually articulates in spoken words Ms Gandhi's most profound thoughts, or the Congress's accomplished spokespersons Anand Sharma and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The onerous task of informing India about what Ms Gandhi has to say about Mr Quattrocchi pocketing a tidy little sum of tax-payers' money has been fulfilled by the CPI(M)'s Politburo member and MP Sitaram Yechury.

While the official spokespersons of the Congress resolutely refused to be drawn into making any comment that would directly reflect Ms Gandhi's views on this remarkable conspiracy to defraud the people of India, this telly-savvy Marxist has amplified for media, with admirable confidence, the Congress president's inner voice.

Thus we are now informed by Ms Gandhi, courtesy Comrade Yechury, that the "Government had no advance knowledge of the CBI decision to allow de-freezing" of Mr Quattrocchi's London accounts. She has also disabused us of all notions of the CBI being misused for a cover-up operation; no, the Government is "not pressurising any agency on the course of the investigation".

In case you think that's facetious, on a more serious note, and we refer to Comrade Yechury's version, she has added that investigations into the Bofors scam "should reach a conclusion soon because it has dragged on for too long". Had it not been for Comrade Yechury's concern to keep us posted on Ms Gandhi's views, we would never have been enlightened with her insightful thoughts. Perhaps media should now onward touch base with him rather than waste time with the Congress's spokespersons who, by the way, would be well-advised to do a reality check on whether they still control their turf.

For, given our Comrade's sterling performance - the Congress could not have pleaded its case better - it would be safe to suggest that some jobs are at stake. It is not easy to compete with bright sparks from JNU, more so when the bright spark concerned happens to be Comrade Yechury. Meanwhile, we need not be distracted by the fact that his briefing on Ms Gandhi's views flies in the face of evidence that has just surfaced in London.
  Reply
#13
http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story....t_id=86210

CBI kept Delhi court in the dark on defreezing, told it the opposite: he’s wanted

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->On August 6, 2003, less than a month after Bofors-accused Ottavio Quattrocchi’s London accounts were frozen, the CBI duly informed the court of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate in Delhi which is hearing the Quattrocchi case. But when it came to defreezing, not only was the court kept in the dark, it was also given statements that fly in the face of the London clean chit.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
  Reply
#14
<!--QuoteBegin-vijayk+Jan 19 2006, 08:39 PM-->QUOTE(vijayk @ Jan 19 2006, 08:39 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?m...t&counter_img=1


Sonia's new voice

The Pioneer Edit Desk

All those who have expressed their sense of outrage over the stunning silence of the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson on the latest episode of the Bofors scam opera owe an apology to Mr Manmohan Singh and Ms Sonia Gandhi. The two have spoken in tandem - as they should - and removed all doubts that there may have been about their being in the know of the great heist that has left India's exchequer poorer by more than $4 million.

Mr Singh travelled all the way to Assam to inform a breathless nation that he does not bother with minor details like his Government facilitating the de-freezing of Italian fixer Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts, thus enabling him to walk away with a chunk of the bribe Bofors paid for its 1986 contract.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>You will recall the installation of <i>Panneerselvan</i> as the Chief Minister of <i>Tamil Nadu</i> when <i>Madam</i> was prevented by inconvenient electoral laws (which are a nuisance - to <i>Czarinas</i> and <i>comrades</i>). <i>Panneerselvan</i>’s unique qualification to become the chief minister of one of India’s most advanced states (it is after all not <i>Bihar</i>) - being that he is blindly loyal and would pay obeisance in the royal court morning and evening. As water (whether plain or rose-scented) takes the shape of its container (if my<i> Tamil</i> is up to it, rhetorically, <i>Panneerselvan</i> means a bridegroom with good character like the smell of rosewater), <i>Panneerselvan</i> fulfilled the duties assigned to him and vacated the chair when bid to do so. As the character of <i> Panneerselvan</i> is so malleable, the name could well be generic. The difference therefore is in academic qualifications. Our <i>Panneerselvan</i> ensconced in Delhi is<i> Oxford</i> educated and held high positions in the <i>World Bank</i> and the<i> GOI</i>. He is there at another <i>Madam</i>’s pleasure and no Cabinet Minister worth his starched <i>Khadi</i> pays any heed to him. They are all autonomous and pay obeisance only in <i>Madam’</i>s court.</span></span>

Since the Prime Minister neither issues orders to his colleagues nor meddles with the messy task of running the Government, he is totally ignorant and it is no use pointing fingers at him. After allowing a decent 24 hours for an incredulous nation to digest Mr Singh's astounding disclaimer - those given to uncharitable thoughts would describe it as sheer effrontery - Ms Gandhi has spoken her mind on an issue which, presumably she feels, is needlessly agitating the masses.

No, she has not spoken to the media directly, nor has she done so through either Ms Ambika Soni, who usually articulates in spoken words Ms Gandhi's most profound thoughts, or the Congress's accomplished spokespersons Anand Sharma and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The onerous task of informing India about what Ms Gandhi has to say about Mr Quattrocchi pocketing a tidy little sum of tax-payers' money has been fulfilled by the CPI(M)'s Politburo member and MP Sitaram Yechury.

While the official spokespersons of the Congress resolutely refused to be drawn into making any comment that would directly reflect Ms Gandhi's views on this remarkable conspiracy to defraud the people of India, this telly-savvy Marxist has amplified for media, with admirable confidence, the Congress president's inner voice.

Thus we are now informed by Ms Gandhi, courtesy Comrade Yechury, that the "Government had no advance knowledge of the CBI decision to allow de-freezing" of Mr Quattrocchi's London accounts. She has also disabused us of all notions of the CBI being misused for a cover-up operation; no, the Government is "not pressurising any agency on the course of the investigation".

In case you think that's facetious, on a more serious note, and we refer to Comrade Yechury's version, she has added that investigations into the Bofors scam "should reach a conclusion soon because it has dragged on for too long". Had it not been for Comrade Yechury's concern to keep us posted on Ms Gandhi's views, we would never have been enlightened with her insightful thoughts. Perhaps media should now onward touch base with him rather than waste time with the Congress's spokespersons who, by the way, would be well-advised to do a reality check on whether they still control their turf.

For, given our Comrade's sterling performance - the Congress could not have pleaded its case better - it would be safe to suggest that some jobs are at stake. It is not easy to compete with bright sparks from JNU, more so when the bright spark concerned happens to be Comrade Yechury. Meanwhile, we need not be distracted by the fact that his briefing on Ms Gandhi's views flies in the face of evidence that has just surfaced in London.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'>Does this mean that Com. Yechuri has joined the bandwagon of <i>Madam’</i>s <b>courtiers</b>?</span></span>

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'><span style='color:blue'><i>The Pioneer</i> seems to be playing the stellar role that <i>The Indian Express</i> and <i>The Statesman</i> played during the 1975-77 emergency. Bravo!</span></span>

[right][snapback]45139[/snapback][/right]
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#15
http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=61718

Foreigner Sonia not in national interest: Advani


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> Seeking to revive Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin issue, Leader of Opposition L K Advani on Friday said the latest controversy involving Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi has made it clear that the issue had a direct link with country’s national interest.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Congress, he said, was facing multiple crises with the Mitrochin Archives, the Volcker issue and Quattrocchi issue coming to the fore.

“Congress kaa haath, Quattrocchi ke saath, not aam aadmi ke saath,” he said and expressed hope that the party will become an effective instrument for turning 21st century into India’s century of greatness. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
  Reply
#16
These episodes clearly shows, Sonia is anti India and not good for India's future
  Reply
#17
<!--QuoteBegin-Mudy+Jan 21 2006, 01:31 AM-->QUOTE(Mudy @ Jan 21 2006, 01:31 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->These episodes clearly shows, Sonia is anti India and not good for India's future
[right][snapback]45215[/snapback][/right]
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Yep. I agree 100%

Hopefully our president does something about this.


http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?...ess=1&id=103587


Bofors: NDA wants Kalam to step in

NEW DELHI, Jan. 20. — A delegation of NDA leaders today urged the President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, to look into the alleged “abuse of power” by the UPA government by facilitating “de-freezing” of Ottavio Quattrocchi’s London bank accounts. They also urged him to examine the role of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the UPA chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, in the “scandalous” episode. During the half-hour meeting with the President, they sought his intervention in impressing upon the government the need for seeking law minister, Mr HR Bhardwaj’s resignation for his alleged role in sending legal emissaries to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with the request for de-freezing the Q accounts. They said both the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson should be asked to give exact details of events leading to the de-freezing. — SNS
  Reply
#18
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->CBI may sing like a canary 
Pioneer.com
Navin Upadhyay/ New Delhi
SC to hear PIL on defreezing Q accounts tomorrow ---- The Central Bureau of Investigation's desperate attempt to bail out the Government in the raging controversy over unlocking of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi's bank accounts in London may come a cropper in Supreme Court when the case comes up for hearing on Monday.   

The CBI does not have documents to establish that additional solicitor general B Dutta was asked to make any request to the CPS to defreeze Mr Q's accounts. The agency will also find it difficult to establish that Mr Dutta was carrying the agency's brief to London in his meeting with officials of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Harried CBI officials are burning the midnight oil to prepare a response to the Supreme Court notice on a PIL filed by advocate Ajay Agarwal challenging the UPA Government's steps to unlock Mr Q's frozen accounts. Last week, the court admitted the PIL and directed the Government to initiate a move to keep Mr Q's accounts in freeze. The apex court's intervention prodded CBI to hold a Press conference and claim it had sent Mr Dutta to London to answer certain queries raised by the CPS in connection with keeping tabs on Mr Q's accounts.

The PIL asks, under whose instruction Dutta visited London on December 22 to submit that the CBI had found no evidence to link the money in two of Mr Q's accounts - Euro 3 million and $1 million with the Bofors payoff case. The PIL also sought direction for the Government to produce the letter/authority given to Britain's Crown Prosecution Service to defreeze the accounts.

Sources in CBI said, Mr Dutta's brief was only to convey the implications of various judgments of Delhi High Court in connection with acquittals of Hinduja brothers. However, they are baffled by the written request made by Mr Dutta to the CPS to defreeze Mr Q's accounts.

"This was not part of our brief," said a CBI official. "We will have no option but to admit it before the court," he added.

<b>The UPA Government's attempt to make the CBI a scapegoat was exposed by the CPS' e-mail of December 23 where it specifically mentions that Mr Dutta had handed over written request from the Government of India and Law Ministry to defreeze Mr Q's accounts.</b>

<b>"We can't do anything at this stage. The court is bound to ask for relevant papers to support that we had asked Mr Dutta to make the request to unlock the accounts. Both the agency and the Government could end up with egg on their faces," a senior CBI official said.</b>

The CBI is worried about how it will explain to SC its decision to bypass the trial court in bailing out Mr Q. "It amounts to closing a case. The SC could take a serious view of it," a source said.

Sources also said that new CBI director Vijay Shanker is upset over the way the agency has been dragged into the controversy over a step initiated by his predecessor.

They say, Mr Shanker is not willing to crawl when he has been asked to bend. And that could add to UPA's discomfiture in coming days.
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#19
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Giving unto Caesar... </b>
Pioneer.com
Sandhya Jain 
The mills of god grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. The Bible says their inexorable grinding brings the most arrogant offenders to justice. As several high profile accused in the Bofors kickbacks scandal slip through the butterfingers of a tardy investigative system and a conniving polity, Ms Sonia Gandhi may yet emerge as the sole victim of the whole sordid affair.

Never directly accused of corruption, yet insidiously insinuated in every deal struck by fellow Italian Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi since she entered the household of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Ms Sonia Gandhi now stands in danger of being indicted at the bar of public opinion as an accessory to crimes linked with the her Roman countryman.

<b>Her stubborn silence in the face of a national furore over signor Quattrocchi making off with nearly Rs 21 crores from surreptitiously released bank accounts in London,</b> which were frozen after he was identified in legal documents as a recipient of the Bofors illicit payoff, reinforces her image as a sinister manipulator of the Indian political and legal system.

Regardless of rhetoric churned out by the Congress president's spin doctors, few will believe she had no hand in the sudden move by the UPA Government to give the Italian a clean chit before Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, resulting in the speedy de-freezing of his bank accounts and his prompt denudation of the same.

Mr Quattrocchi's apparent triumph in thus recovering his moolah has had a demoralising effect upon Indian public opinion, and many commentators have tacitly endorsed the view that the case is as good as over. Yet I believe that the underhand manner in which the former Snam Progetti employee was given a clean chit by <b>Union Law Minister Mr HR Bhardwaj and facilitated in recovering his ill-gotten gains has brought the Bofors smoking gun directly to Ms Sonia Gandhi's door. </b>
In the lifetime of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, few opposition leaders felt it manly to link his wife with kickbacks associated with lucrative foreign deals. Thus, even as her dour, unsmiling visage cast huge shadows over his political career and personal credibility, Ms Sonia Gandhi escaped public odium because he insulated her from direct scrutiny.

Of course, no one knew then that a fellow Roman had been entrusted with the collection of nearly a third of the Rs 64 crore payoff. That revelation came during the tenure of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, who was sufficiently intimidated by the signora to permit Mr Quattrocchi to escape to Kuala Lumpur, even as pressure mounted for impounding his passport and arresting him in the case.

<b>Interpol issued a red alert for the Roman, who publicly blackmails the Congress president by proclaiming his intimate ties with her family even as she pretends amnesia, and Malaysia was considering India's request for extradition when a Single Judge gave a highly questionable judgment on a Friday, enabling Mr Quattrocchi to flee before an appeal could be filed on Monday and a stay obtained against his departure</b>.

Now, a similar deliberate confusion of legal process has enabled him to grab monies identified with the Bofors kickbacks. Since the sole purpose of the obfuscation in London was to help him get (and perhaps share) this money, it is unlikely that the UPA regime will press Interpol to deliver this personal friend of its supreme leader to stand trial in the Bofors bribery case.

Yet the Indian people have the right to know why a friendly European country has failed to respect the Interpol alert and arrest Mr Quattrocchi. Mr George Fernandes has pointedly asked Ms Sonia Gandhi why she does not ask her friend to return to India and clear his name, and her sullen silence only aggravates her complicity.

Ms Sonia Gandhi has denied herself the fig-leaf of being a housewife who is being unfairly targeted by opposition leaders on account of her foreign origins. After playing a cat and mouse game with the late Narasimha Rao, she grabbed power in the Congress in a tasteless, un-Indian-style coup against the late Sitaram Kesri; her acolytes roughed up senior leaders likely to resist her ascension. Today she is the Congress president, a sitting MP from Rai Bareilly, and UPA chairperson - in short, a complete political animal.

Since it was Ms Sonia Gandhi who introduced Mr Quattrocchi to the household of both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, she personally owes the nation an explanation why Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors paid the Roman to swing the gun deal via AE Services, which transferred the funds to Swiss bank accounts operated by Mr Quattrocchi and his wife, Ms Maria. Not only was Ms Quattrocchi then an Italian public sector employee, but he entered the picture literally at the last moment, and promptly put the French gun Sofma out of the way. A front company called AE Services signed a contract with Bofors in November 1985 stipulating a three per cent commission if the contract was signed before March 31, 1986, as indeed it was.

This commission moved in and out of several bank accounts to conceal its origins with AB Bofors, but dogged Indian investigators followed the bank trail and linked the funds with the Quattrocchis, prompting them to flee the country. The tangible links between Mr Quattrocchi and the Bofors money, and between the Italian and the Gandhi family, may have led Ms Sonia Gandhi to believe that helping him to get the money would both silence him and put the case in permanent cold storage. As if on cue, sponsored voices in the media began claiming that the Bofors investigation has cost the nation more money than the bribes paid, and that larger scandals have surfaced since, and hence the case should be closed.

In response, the Supreme Court has taken the view that if the Centre and the CBI felt that pending cases against Mr Quattrocchi should be dropped, they "should have gone to the criminal court (where the trial is pending)," a virtual stricture against the UPA regime and its de facto supremo. The CBI's belated claim that it sent Additional Solicitor-General B Datta to London without the knowledge of the Law Ministry or the Department of Personnel and Training (headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), is a post-dated cheque on a failed bank.

Mr Singh has done well to dissociate himself from the de-freezing of Quattrocchi's London accounts. To the extent that he can be considered complicit in the affair, it is as a subject who has given the demanded dues to the Congress Caesar. In short, whichever way one looks at the London chapter of the scandal, the inescapable conclusion is that Ms Sonia Gandhi has incriminated herself and given substance to the belief that naturalised citizens should be debarred from positions of political responsibility, and certainly from constitutional posts. Not only is their loyalty suspect, but the gamut of their personal associations can never be fully known, thus leaving ample space for external manipulation.

Media savvy acolytes of the Congress president complain that she has revived a defunct scandal and undone the painstaking work of the spin doctors who whitewashed the fact that her foreign origins checkmated her prime ministerial ambitions in 2004, and projected her as the epitome of self-sacrifice. Bofors may affect Rahul Gandhi's proposed elevation in the party, but the more lasting effect will be a hardening of attitudes among coalition partners.
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#20
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Ex-envoy writes to PM on Q</b>
New Delhi, Jan. 26: <b>A former Indian ambassador to Sweden has said he is stunned by the UPA government’s approval for defreezing of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi’s accounts in a London bank and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take appropriate action in the matter</b>.

In a January 12 letter to Dr Singh, Mr B.M. Oza, who served as the Indian envoy to Stockholm between 1984 and 1988 when the Bofors deal was signed, wrote that allowing Mr Quattrocchi to withdraw the Rs 21 crores from his bank accounts was "irregular and illegal."

Mr Quattrocchi, Mr Oza wrote, was a "fugitive from Indian law" as there is an arrest warrant against him. The Italian businessman has not presented himself for prosecution and therefore could not be given a clean chit yet.

"What has been done is irregular and illegal as is evident from the Supreme Court order asking for maintaining status quo and ensuring that Quattrocchi did not withdraw money," the former envoy said. "His (Quattrocchi’s) involvement is unmistakable," Mr Oza said.

The Centre has since replied that the money was withdrawn on January 16.

Along with the letter, Mr Oza appended three pages from his book, Bofors: The Ambassador’s Evidence, to substantiate Quattrocchi’s involvement in the Bofors deal and his connections with certain politicians in India. The pages 102 to 104 of his book, which was published in 1997, elaborate on the "obvious link" between Quattrocchi and the Bofors deal.

<b>Ottavio Quattrocchi is one of six accused in the Bofors case. Four of the accused — late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Win Chadha, Martin Ardbo and S.K. Bhatnagar — have since passed away. </b>

The Hindujas were tried and acquitted by the Indian courts. A court case is pending against Quattrocchi.

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