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Updated: July 14, 2013 02:12 IST

Quattrocchi dies in Milan

Sandeep Joshi
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File photo of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.
File photo of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Ottavio Quattrocchi (74), who was main accused in the Bofors scam, died in Milan on Friday, thus bringing to an end a quarter-century-old saga of political bickering between the Congress and its rivals over the infamous gun deal.

Though all charges against the Italian businessman were withdrawn by the Central Bureau of Investigation two years back, his name and his alleged links with the Gandhi family kept the Bofors-pot boiling in the political firmament.

A year after the $285 million Bofors gun deal was signed between the Indian government and the Swedish arms firm in 1986, Swedish radio came up with the bribery allegations, and the news was followed up in painstaking detail by The Hindu. Later, V.P. Singh named the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, as a beneficiary, but these charges were never proved by various inquiry commissions set up after he took over as Prime Minister following the Congress’ electoral debacle in 1989.

The CBI registered the case in 1990. Even as the probe was on into alleged kickbacks paid to top politicians, Quattrocchi left India in 1993 out of fear of being arrested.

Though the CBI managed to get a Red Corner Notice issued against him by the Interpol, Quattrocchi never came back to India despite the fact that attempts were made to extradite him — first from Malaysia in 2003 and then from Argentina in 2007.

While discharging Quattrocchi in 2011, the court noted that the CBI, despite “spending through the nose for about 21 years, has not been able to put forward legally sustainable evidence with regard to conspiracy in the matter. Further, in the case of Mr. Quattrocchi, as against the alleged kickback of Rs. 64 crore he received, the CBI had by 2005 already spent around Rs. 250 crore on the investigation, which is sheer wastage of public money.”

After giving the order, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav recited famous lines from an old Hindi film song — “Woh afsana jisse anjaam tak laana na ho mumkin, usse ek khoobsurat mod dekhar chhodna hi achha” — which translates to: “A story that cannot be taken to a logical end; it is better to leave it at a good juncture.”

No one was ever convicted in the case. While some of the other accused — former Bofors chief Martin Ardbo, Bofors agent Win Chadha and former Defence Secretary S.K. Bhatnagar — are all dead, the Hinduja brothers were also discharged. While referring to the Bofors case in 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “The Quattrocchi case is an embarrassment for India … It is not a good reflection on the Indian legal system that we harass people while the world says we have no case.”

A ghost created by BJP, says Congress

PTI reports:

Meanwhile, the Congress said Quattrocchi was a “ghost” created by the BJP and slammed the Opposition for trying to use his name to “besmirch” the party and the Gandhi family.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said Quattrocchi was a “ghost” created by the BJP and charges against him had been quashed during the NDA rule. “I don’t understand why the Congress should react to the death of somebody who has been a ghost created by the BJP. Somebody has died, his family deserves condolences,” he told NDTV.

Mr. Singhvi said it was in 2004 that the Delhi High Court quashed the charges against Quattrocchi, and the NDA government did not appeal against the ruling.

BJP leader Prakash Javadekar, however, dismissed Mr. Singhvi’s charge, saying the ghost was created because the Congress was “hosting” him. “...the ghost was not created by the BJP but by [the former Prime Minister,] V.P. Singh, and if we created the ghost, it is because you were hosting it."

"Ottavio Quattrocchi (74), who was main accused in the Bofors scam,
died in Milan on Friday, thus bringing to an end a quarter-century-old
saga of political bickering between the Congress and its rivals over
the infamous gun deal."

I dont know about the political bickering, but now with the Q's death
the Indian media led by the once venerable Hindu (whose reporter Chitra
Subramaniam originally broke the news about this scandal) is now
somehow quite impatient to entomb the Bofors scandal once and for all
from public discourse.

from:  Resh
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 12:55 IST

Literally final nail into Bofors deal coffin. Bofors Gun smoke stopped
at last. Now congress can smoke peace pipe with a relief.

I still remember the late eighties when The Hindu's correspondent
Chitra in Geneva had covered the issue with great sincerity and hard

But when CBI started listening to its Master's voice, all the cases
will be buried to final closure.

from:  Gorkeyraju B
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 12:12 IST

If Bofors ( Rs. 62 Crore ) could have been handled in patriotic sense,
we could have avoided 2G as well ( Rs 1.75 Lakh Crore ).

Supreme Court should add one more note in its historic Judgement : If
politician is found guilty, then his lineage will also be barred from
taking part in Politics.

I know, this law is not present in any country and may be against
innocent people in his lineage. But, in country like us, where
politicians are ready to die for 'Family' rather than 'Country', we
can use this effectively to control them.

from:  Sachin
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 11:39 IST

any reason this is on front page? as if he was a great contributor to our country and we want to mourn his loss? People like Sharmila Rege and Amar Bose who are Indians, and have done something for our society are somewhere in smaller prints. Why this discrimination Hindu?

from:  Nitya
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 11:14 IST

2G, Coal, CWG will form major subject for discussion for the BJP.
As far as I can see, even the BJP has indulged in big corruption
when it was in power, though not in such mega scale. I do not
subscribe to the logic that corruption indulged by the BJP should
be glossed over because of the huge scams in the UPA II regime.
In fact, if the BJP had persued the allegations that surfaced
while in power (for eg. coffin scandal), it would have been that
much better for both polity and the nation. By adopting 'you
turn a blind eye to my mischiefs and I will reciprocate' stand
while in power, its current day shoutings do not command any

The probes in the mega scams of UPA are being monitored by the
only credible agency among our midst..The Supreme Court. Let us
not give any credit to the BJP for this or that Miniser's
resignation or arrest.

from:  raghavan
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 10:29 IST

Bofors is the one case where Congress and BJP should be held
equally guilty. While the Congress stonewalled all queries and
investigations, there is not any worthwhile explanation coming
from the BJP as to what difficulty it faced in probing the issue
in spite of being in power for 6 long years. Perhaps, for V P
Singh, Vajpayee etc, Bofors' issue was just a stepping stone to
reach the PM chair! 64 crores, the amount of commission involved
(who knows, actually it may be still high), now worth around 1000
crores, still may be peanuts by the current day standards! Let
us stop making ourselves a laughing stock by still demanding a
genuine probe into this.

from:  raghavan
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 10:13 IST

"All secrets are deep, all secrets become dark, That's in the nature of secrets." Cory Doctrow Morgan was right.We could hardly plume the truth behind Bofors deal and the alleged kickbacks which was reported to have flown to Gandhi family. The mixed reactions in Indian political scenario are inevitable. Congress may leave a sigh over the burial of Quottrochi, and moreso, the mystery shrouded over Bofors.The opposition may cross its fingers. Our legal system the judiciary have to resign with staring at Quattrocchi, the accused in Bofors deal,who had jollywell jumped the interrogation. The perpetual discourse on " What could have been and could not have been done" though is only of an academic interest, leaves an eternal blot on Gandhian family. We are only reminded of the the joke of Tamil Comedian Vadivelu who after being thrashed heavily for his misdeeds, uttered in a Tamil film, " Do the people still believe us?"

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 07:07 IST

Now Congress and its allies will be happy . One more corruption case remained burried .

from:  anil
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 04:04 IST

"Q" managed to escape justice thanks to a combination of shoddy investigations and determined political interference in the investigatons. He and his powerful Indian supporters won. India lost.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 02:11 IST

In his country he might be a deal maker and businessman. But for us in India he was a criminal. With his death he might have closed all option of punishment from Indian courts for his wheeling dealings but the politicians here in India should not be spared just because he's dead. Rather the judiciary should take it as a wake up call and urge investigative agencies to bring the guilty to book lest justice is denied to the citizenry.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 02:08 IST

With 2G and colagate on who needs a silly Rs 62 crore Bofors.

from:  Mohan Menon
Posted on: Jul 14, 2013 at 00:38 IST

Somehow Mr.ottavio Quattrocchi was well known in most of the households
in India. For chennai he was more nearer because his name was
introduced here only by Sri. Ram of The Hindu years ago.Mr.Ottavio
May be popular by birth and adoption in Italy he had become very
popular on this Bofors gun deal though his part is not made clear
till date. In his death at the age of 74 we feel as though one very
near to us( also had become a dear one) had gone away.The opposition
parties should also join congress party in wishing PEACE in his death,
after stress for the past few years.

from:  T.S.Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Jul 13, 2013 at 23:14 IST
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