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Bhandari's Secret Lockers Throw Up Evidence of 'Illegal Contracts'

Defence consultant Sanjay Bhandari (R), building and logo of Swiss Pilatus Aircraft Ltd (Left below) in Stans and a Tatra Vectra truck.

Defence consultant Sanjay Bhandari (R), building and logo of Swiss Pilatus Aircraft Ltd (Left below) in Stans and a Tatra Vectra truck.

I-T department suspect that Bhandari got commission for clinching the deal in favour of Pilatus and Tatra Vectra.

The probe against defence consultant Sanjay Bhandari has taken a new turn with the Income Tax (IT) department allegedly finding evidence of kickbacks in at least two arms deals done in the past.

During their searches Income Tax officials found at least three hidden lockers belonging to Bhandari, sources close to the investigation said on Monday. In one of the lockers, the department found copies of illegal contracts allegedly made by Sanjay Bhandari and defence equipment suppliers. Interestingly, in one case the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has already filed a closure report.

Sources in the I-T department suspect that Bhandari got commission for clinching the deal in favour of Pilatus and Tatra Vectra. The department reportedly found illegal contracts pertaining to these two deals from a hidden locker belonging to Bhandari.

Bhandari was not immediately available for his comment. His mobile phone was switched off and people considered close to him said that they had no idea about his whereabouts.

Switzerland-based Pilatus has supplied basic trainer aircraft worth around Rs. 4,000 crores and Tatra Vectra has supplied trucks to the Indian Army. The department will shortly send information on this o the Defence Ministry and other government departments.

Copies of these "illegal contracts" will further push the previous government on to the back foot, as kickbacks in defence deals in India are illegal. Both the deal was inked during the previous government and the Defence Minister has already hinted a probe into Pilatus deal.

Though the CBI has filed a closure report in it probe into the supply of Tatra Vectra trucks to the Indian Army, this will reopen the debate of kickbacks being offered to the former Chief of Indian Army.

CNN-News18 is in possession of documents which show that Bhandari occupied directorship in Vectra UK between 2003 and 2008.
first published:June 27, 2016, 22:43 IST