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Congress mum on Swedish investigator’s Bofors ‘revelations’


New Delhi : A Swedish official who investigated the Bofors payoff scandal of the 1980s has alleged that India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not pursue the case seriously, though the Congress party Thursday refused to react to the allegation.

Sten Lindstrom, who as principal Swedish investigator probed the matter, also told TV news channel CNN-IBN in an interview that there was no direct evidence of pay-offs against then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his family.

The official’s allegations put the CBI in the dock which has already been under attack for the failure to extradite the prime accused, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, from Argentina earlier this year.

When contacted, Congress spokesperson M. Veerappa Moily refused to comment on the allegations stating that he was not aware of any such news report.

In the interview conducted in Stockholm, Lindstrom was asked about the seriousness of the CBI in investigating the case. He replied: “They had a copy of a newspaper which had published documents of the Swedish national bank and they wanted to know if that were authentic documents…we said we can show them the originals and they said thank you and went.”

He said that the CBI personnel had met him only once, for 20 minutes.

When asked whether he had any conclusive evidence that the Gandhi family had any role in the Bofors deal, he said, “We could see there was a connection to Quattrocchi, not further, really. That’s why we wanted to interview Sonia Gandhi about this…but we were not able to do that.”

The official also said: “There was no reason for Quattrocchi to get money from Bofors…And since the link to India for Quattrocchi, who was an Italian person…it was Sonia Gandhi…we wanted to know from her why was he given the money.”

The Bofors scandal had come to light in 1987 when a Swedish radio broadcast alleged Rs.645 million kickbacks in the deal for 155-mm howitzer guns.