The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to drop plans to buy 38 more Pilatus PC-7 Mk II planes from Switzerland amid a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into a 2009 trainer aircraft deal case.
This will likely delay the induction of much-needed basic trainer aircraft into the IAF, according to officials quoted by Hindustan Times.
Last month, the CBI had registered a case against fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, Switzerland-based Pilatus Aircraft Ltd and unknown officials of the Indian Air Force and the Ministry of Defence in the 2009 trainer aircraft deal case.
The case was registered on charges of irregularities and corruption (kickbacks to the tune of Rs 339 crore) in the procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft in 2009.
“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 the procurement of 75 basic trainer aircraft in 2009 on Wednesday,” a senior CBI official told IANS.
The CBI has earlier registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) on November 11, 2016, to verify the allegations of bribery.
The CBI official said the agency was probing the kind of services that Offset India Solution Pvt Ltd provided to the Swiss aircraft firm.
Earlier, the CBI had conducted a raid at the official premises of Sanjay Bhandari. Incriminating documents were recovered and further investigation will continue, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has indefinitely banned all business dealings with a company owned by Bhandari.