Home / Politics / News /  CBI defends its role in investigation

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday denied allegations that it had asked foreign investigators to probe actor Amitabh Bachchan in the Bofors gun scandal and said it made all efforts to extradite Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

India’s federal investigating agency was responding to Sten Lindstrom’s interview tothehoot.org website.

Lindstrom, who identified himself as the whistleblower after 25 years, said there was no evidence that slain Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi accepted bribes.

India Today Images

Lindstrom blamed Indian investigators of “damaging his investigation". “They gave me a list of names to pursue, including the name of Amitabh Bachchan... during that trip to Sweden, the Indian investigators planted the Bachchan angle on DN (the Swedish Dagens Nyheter newspaper). The Bachchans took them to court in the UK and won," he said.

The interview vindicated his family, movie star Bachchan said in a note on Wednesday.

“For us, as a family that has borne the humiliation and insults for the past 25 years, this comes as a vindication of our stand," he said.

Lindstrom said Indian investigators never got in touch with the authorities probing the gun deal in Stockholm. “Can you imagine a situation where no one from India met the real investigators of the gun deal?"

India had purchased 410 field howitzer guns from Sweden’s Bofors for $1.3 billion and the allegations are that the company paid 64 crore in kickbacks to Indian politicians and bureaucrats through Italian businessman Quattrocchi.

The Indian government spent nearly 250 crore to probe the alleged bribes.

The controversy resulted in the defeat of the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress party government in 1989. CBI had registered a case in 1990.

“Amitabh Bachchan was not named in our first information report. We deny that any CBI officer planted a story on Bachchan," a senior CBI official said on condition of anonymity. “CBI does not interact with foreign investigators. We file letters rogatory to seek information."

On Quattrocchi, the official admitted that the agency failed to bring him to India.

“In our closure report, we told the court that he is an Italian national and Italy does not extradite its citizens. The agency made all efforts to get him to India when he was detained in Malaysia (2002) and in Argentina (2007). Despite the evidence, he could not be brought back," the official said.

But T.N. Mishra, who was officiating CBI director between 31 March 1998 and 4 January 1999, said the investigation had been a shoddy one since the beginning. Even the chargesheet was filed based on weak evidence, he said.

sahil.m@livemint.com

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