Central Bureau of Investigation Director A.P. Singh will be visiting South Africa next month to make a presentation before the authorities seeking cooperation in the probe into a case of alleged corruption in the purchase of anti-materiel rifles from South African defence equipment manufacturer Denel registered in 2005.

During the meeting with the South African defence ministry officials, it is learnt that the CBI chief will also raise the issue of a pending Letter Rogatory for which several reminders have been sent by the agency seeking information. Agency sources said having studied the case for long, the South African authorities have now shown an inclination to cooperate and discuss the matter with the CBI Director personally. “Mr. Singh will be accompanied by a Deputy Inspector General-level officer,” said a source.

The agency had in June 2005 registered the case -- pertaining to a deal finalised during the National Democratic Alliance regime, -- against unknown public servants of the Ministry of Defence; Denel (Pty) Limited and their officials; Varas Associates and their officials; and others for alleged payment of 12.75 per cent commission to Varas Associates. The payment had allegedly been made as commission for securing contracts for the supply of anti-materiel rifles.

Investigations allegedly revealed that Denel had paid $24,08,373 and $10,00,672 to Varas Associates, a company based in the Isle of Man, on January 27, 2003, and $1,51,350 on June 19, 2003. The agency also found that invoices were generated and sent from the Varas office to the Denel headquarters against fees for the “technical and consulting” services rendered as per agreement, which were allegedly related to the arms deal in India.

The CBI, in the FIR, alleged that Denel had appointed Varas Associates as an agent against payment of 12.75 per cent commission for all the deals it would secure for Denel, this despite a prohibition on engagement of agents in defence procurements in India. Besides, the agency purportedly found that secret minutes of the Indian Military’s Price Negotiation Committee on May 23, 2003, to procure 200 anti-materiel rifles and one lakh rounds of ammunition had allegedly been supplied by Varas to Denel as part of its “consulting and technical service”.

The agency had earlier sent Letters Rogatory to South Africa, Hong Kong and Isle of Man, but has not received any replies so far.

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