CBI to look into private detective's charges against Rajiv Govt of sabotaging his probe

Irani asks Cong to come clean on issue
Report by: 
Agencies
NEW DELHI
18 Oct 2017

The Central Bureau of Investigation today said it would look into the "facts and circumstances" of the Bofors scam mentioned by private detective Michael Hershmam, who alleged that the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government had sabotaged his investigation.

Hershman, who is the president of the US-based private detective firm Fairfax, claimed in television interviews recently that Rajiv Gandhi was "furious" when he had found a Swiss bank account "Mont Blanc". The detective, who was here last week to address a conference of private detectives, also alleged that the bribe money of the Bofors gun scandal had been parked in the Swiss account. "The agency has learnt of the matter pertaining to the Bofors aired on certain TV channels containing interview of Michael Hershman," CBI information officer and spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said in a statement. "Facts and circumstances as mentioned in the interview will be looked into as per due process by the CBI," he said. Hershman was quoted as telling television channels that Rajiv Gandhi got very upset when "our work was uncovered". He then established a Supreme Court commission to look into the circumstances surrounding then finance minister V P Singh's hiring of Fairfax.

In his interviews, Hershman has expressed his willingness to testify and help Indian agencies on the Rs 64 crore Bofors gun pay-off scandal but the effort has to be a credible one. Union minister Smriti Irani today sought to put the Congress in the dock on the Bofors issue, citing claims of a private investigator involved in its probe, and asked it to come clean on the involvement of its leaders in the alleged scam. Targeting the opposition party, she told newspersons that its leaders, including its chief Sonia Gandhi, have been shown to be too eager to grab undue benefits whether it is a matter of an air ticket upgrade or a scam like the Bofors deal. Quoting from Hershman's interviews to some media houses, she said he was asked by then Union finance minister V P Singh to look into the Bofors deal but was later offered bribe and then given death threat when he stumbled on the evidence of bribe. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi shifted Singh to the defence ministry while Hershman was also asked to implicate Singh, she said.

Quoting him, she said the owner of a Pakistani-run Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which had been allegedly involved in money laundering and other financial crimes, or his representative met Rajiv Gandhi with a large suitcase. Following this, the bank, which was shut after a CBI raid in connection with the Bofors deal, was allowed to open and its detained officials were released, she said. "Who were offering bribe? Why did a Congress leader (Rajiv Gandhi) choose to silence his own minister (Singh)? For too long the Congress has kept conveniently quiet. It is time that it answers as to what was the role of Congress leaders then and now," the Union minister asked, adding that many of them are still around.

The Congress has had a tendency to either bribe or give death threats to people looking into dubious deals involving its leaders, she alleged. Irani parried queries asked by the Congress at a press conference in which it questioned then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's, now prime minister, 100 trips in private chartered flights. She said the Congress was trying to prove its leaders involved in the Bofors case and Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law involved in controversial land deals, innocent. Its leaders have not responded to Hershman's claims or fresh charges against Vadra, she said. To a question, the information and broadcasting minister said the Congress should have filed a defamation suit against Hershman if it believed he was wrong as she noted that Jay Shah, the son of BJP chief Amit Shah, had filed a Rs 100-crore suit against a news portal over a story on his business. (PTI)