CBI sources say suspected links emerged in a statement received from Kim
Lieutenant General (retired) Tejinder Singh, the retired officer at the heart of a military corruption controversy that sparked off an explosive confrontation between the Union government and the former Chief of Army Staff General V.K. Singh, has denied allegations that he had connections with high-profile arms dealer Abhishek Verma.
“I have met him [Mr. Verma] once or twice, but I had no working relationship with him,” Lt. General Tejinder Singh told The Hindu. Mr. Verma is currently in prison, awaiting trial on multiple charges of engaging in corruption linked to multimillion dollar arms deals, the theft of official secrets, and conducting illegal foreign-currency operations.
Highly-placed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sources said that the suspected links between Lt. General Tejinder Singh and Mr. Verma emerged in a statement received from Kim Min Su, the New Delhi representative of South Korean arms firm LIG Nex1. LIG Nex1 was among several competitors vying for an Indian Army contract for a Very Short Range Air Defence System, VSHORAD that supports surface-to-air missile weapon systems.
Mr. Kim, a CBI source said, told the agency Mr. Verma approached his firm in the second half of 2011, claiming that a complaint had been filed against the company jeopardising its prospects. Mr. Verma allegedly offered his services to set things right for the South Korean company.
In one of three meetings held in luxury hotels and at Mr. Verma's suburban farmhouse, the CBI claims to have been told by Mr. Kim that he was introduced to one Tejinder Singh, who was identified as a senior functionary in the Indian missile programme.
Mr. Kim told the CBI that his firm finally did not engage in any deal with Mr. Verma. The South Korean company, nevertheless, got invited to exhibit its product for inspection.
Mr. Kim declined to comment on these claims. “I have nothing to say,” he told The Hindu.
Earlier, CBI sources said Mr. Verma alleged during questioning that he had made payments to Lt. General Tejinder Singh. However, they said, the retired army officer had denied these claims, for which no supporting evidence emerged.
Speaking to The Hindu, Lt. General Tejinder Singh also said he had never met Mr. Kim, or any representatives of LIG Nex1.
The CBI sources said they had no hard evidence that these meetings had taken place. However, they said, the agency had found a list of contacts on a laptop computer seized from Mr. Varma's wife, Anca Neacsu, that included a reference to a “Lt. General Singh.” Ms. Neacsu, who is also currently in prison awaiting trial along with her husband, is alleged to have conducted illegal lobbying activities on behalf of automatic weapons giant Sig Sauer's Indian subsidiary.
Lt. General Tejinder Singh has also denied connections to Sig Sauer.
The retired officer has filed defamation proceedings against General V.K. Singh for claiming that he had offered the former army chief a bribe.