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CBI Registers FIR Against NRI Arms Dealer In Embraer Deal

Khanna has also faced the agency probe in the Barak missile deal with Israel and sale of arms to Pakistan

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The CBI has registered a case against NRI arms dealer Vipin Khanna and two companies based abroad in a case of alleged kickbacks worth over $5.70 million in connection with three aircraft deals with Embraer signed in 2008.

CBI sources said on Friday that Khanna, whose name had figured earlier also in defence deals probed by the agency, has been booked along with two companies--Brazil-based Embraer and Singapore based Interdev Pte Ltd--in connection with the deals totalling $208 million.

It is alleged that the kickbacks were allegedly routed from subsidiaries of Embraer to Khanna through Interdev.

The sources said the agency had carried out searches at several locations here yesterday. The operation continued till late in the evening.

Khanna had faced CBI probe in a gun deal involving South African company Denel in which the agency had to file a closure report as it could not gather enough evidence from abroad.

He had also faced the agency probe in the Barak missile deal with Israel and sale of arms to Pakistan. Khanna is believed to be a relative of a former Congress leader and his son was an MLA in Punjab till last year.

The sources also said that it is alleged that the commission in Embraer deal was routed through Austria and Switzerland.

They said the agency, which had registered a preliminary enquiry in September, has converted it into a regular FIR on October 18 as enough prima facie material has been found by it to proceed in the case.

The deal for the three aircraft which were to be used by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for air-borne radar systems was inked with Embraer in 2008.

A Brazilian newspaper had alleged that that the aviation company had taken the services of middlemen to clinch deals in Saudi Arabia and India.

According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in such deals.

Leading Brazilian newspaper 'Folha de Sao Paulo' had reported that the company allegedly paid commissions to a UK-based defence agent to finalise the deal with India.

DRDO had purchased three aircraft from the company in 2008 and customized them for serving as air-borne radar system known as airborne early-warning and control systems or AWACS for the Indian Air Force.

The company has been under investigation by the US Justice Department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised US suspicions, the report said.

Since then, the investigation has widened to examine business dealings with eight more countries.

After the PE was registered, Embraer had issued a statement saying, "Since 2011, Embraer has publicly reported that it has been conducting an extensive internal investigation and cooperating with the authorities on investigations regarding alleged violations of the FCPA."

"The company voluntarily expanded the scope of the investigation, systematically reporting the progress of the case to the market. The company is not party of the legal proceedings in Brazil. Therefore, it does not have access to the information contained therein," it had said.