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Govt, CBI Seek to Reopen Rheinmetall Arms deal Bribery Case

Rheinmetall chief Bodo Herbert Garbe, along with arms agent Abhishek Verma and his wife Anca Maria, was accused of hatching a conspiracy to get Rheinmetall off the Defence Ministry blacklist.

Utkarsh Anand | News18.com

Updated:September 27, 2017, 3:58 PM IST
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Govt, CBI Seek to Reopen Rheinmetall Arms deal Bribery Case
Rheinmetall was blacklisted by the Defence Ministry in 2012 after it was found that the company had allegedly bribed the Director General of the Ordnance Factory Board at the time to secure a contract for air defence guns.
New Delhi: In a new twist to a corruption case involving blacklisted German arms giant Rheinmetall, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has moved the Supreme Court against a 2016 order of clearing the defence firm’s chief Bodo Herbert Garbe in a bribery case.

Garbe, along with arms agent Abhishek Verma and his wife Anca Maria, was accused of hatching a conspiracy to get Rheinmetall off the Defence Ministry blacklist. But after Garbe’s exoneration, a special court also discharged Verma and Maria in April this year, holding that there seemed to be no evidence of conspiracy between Verma and Rheinmetall officials.

Taken aback by the collapse of its case, the CBI along with the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, fielded Attorney General K K Venugopal to get its belatedly filed appeal admitted in the top court, which has agreed to examine the case against exoneration of Garbe.

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued a notice to Garbe, seeking his response as to why he should not be sent up for trial for his alleged complicity with Verma and others to illegally get his firm off the Defence Ministry blacklist by paying over USD 5,30,000 (around Rs 3.4 crore). At the same time, the court has also issued a notice on condonation of delay in filing the appeal.

During the brief hearing, the Attorney General submitted before the bench that the Delhi High Court order of clearing Garbe was erroneous and that some new evidence confirmed the collusion of Rheinmetall officials, including Garbe, with arms dealers in India.

Venugopal said that although the appeal was filed almost 19 months after the HC order, it was a case which required to be admitted in the wake of seriousness of alleged offences and to maintain the sanctity of defence contracts.

The bench, at this, agreed to examine the appeal on merits, and issued a formal notice to Garbe. The case is likely to be listed on November 10.
Rheinmetall was blacklisted by the Defence Ministry in 2012 after it was found that the company had allegedly bribed the Director General of the Ordnance Factory Board at the time to secure a contract for air defence guns.

Verma got in touch with the company after it was blacklisted and offered to help them, according to the CBI.

A single judge bench of the Delhi HC had quashed the case against Garbe, noting the CBI could not bring any evidence against the then CEO of Rheinmetall Air Defence except the fact that he had several meetings with Verma during November-December 2010. According to the HC, these meetings alone could not form the basis of trying Garbe.

While clearing him of the charges in this case, the HC had said that the CBI was at liberty to investigate the case further.

While the CBI did not file an appeal against this order, the final nail in the coffin came when the special court relied upon the HC order, and trashed the entire case after underlining that the CBI failed to prove that monetary transaction was an illicit payment for the illegal purpose of getting Rheinmetall off the blacklist.
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