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Govt steps up investigations into Pilatus aircraft scam

Government has stepped up the investigation into alleged bribery in UPA government's purchase of Pilatus trainer aircraft for the Air Force.

This was communicated by defence minister Rajnath Singh to BJP MP, Nishikant Dubey who has alleged Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband Robert Vadra's involvement in scam involving the purchase of the trainer aircraft.

This coincides with the arrest in UK of Sanjay Bhandari, the alleged middleman in the Pillatus deal , in response to an extradition request of Enforcement Directorate.

The extradition trial of Bhandari, who was released, is expected to start soon; perhaps as early as next week.

Raising the issue during zero hour last year, Dubey had alleged massive corruption in deal signed in 2009 and had urged the government to disclose how was Bhandari's links with Robert Vadra.

He claimed that a property that was bought by Bhandari’s firm in London’s 12 Bryanston Square , in fact, belongs to Vadra.

In his letter written to BJP MP, Defence Minister has recalled about actions taken against the Pilatus Aircraft Limited. The Defence Acquisition Council, at its meeting held on September 29, 2009, accorded acceptance of necessity for procurement of 75 basic trainer aircrafts (BTA) through the buy global route.

On May 14, 2012, the CCS approved the proposal for procurement and associated equipment from Pilatus after which a contract was signed on May 24, 2012. Pilatus had delivered all the aircrafts on October 17, 2015 and all payments had been made.

However, after complaints about kick-backs in the deal were reHowever, after complaints about kick-backs in the deal were received, the CBI registered FIR on June 19 last year under section 120-B and 420. Besides, orders for suspension of business dealings with Pilatus were issued on July 12 last year. Suspension of business dealings with Bhandari's OIS were also issued.

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