Defence Ministry alleged Aashmore Private Ltd. was paid Rs.18.8 crore to facilitate deal for aircraft engine parts

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday registered a preliminary enquiry against unknown officials of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), British company Rolls-Royce and the owner of Aashmore Private Limited over an alleged Rs.18.8-crore bribe to bag a contract for supply of aircraft engine spare parts to the public sector undertaking.

The PE was registered on a reference from the Defence Ministry, which alleged that Rolls-Royce had hired Singapore-based Aashmore as a “consultant or agent” to facilitate the Rs.10,000-crore deal.

After the Ministry ordered a inquiry, Rolls-Royce offered to return the amount to the government.

Deals on hold

However, the Ministry put on hold all existing and future deals with the British manufacturer pending the CBI probe into allegations of kickbacks and unauthorised use of an outside “commercial adviser”.

With this, the agreements struck during 2007-11 for supply of aircraft engines to HAL for its trainer aircraft have also landed in trouble.

The issue was taken up by the Ministry after the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office recently arrested two arms commission agents and initiated investigations into Rolls-Royce’s dealings in Asia.

In a letter to HAL last December, Rolls-Royce made a voluntary admission that the service of an outside “adviser” had been used while selling gas turbines to India. The gas turbines were meant for supply to the Gas Authority of India Limited through HAL.

Following an internal inquiry, HAL authorities referred the matter to the Defence Ministry for further action, citing violation of integrity protocol as per India’s procurement rules.