New Delhi, Sep 29
In Quattrocchi case the government told that ‘it has decided to close all cases against fugitive Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused of receiving Rs.7 billion in illegal kickbacks in the Bofors gun purchase scandal of the mid-1980s’.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), told the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan that ‘the government has decided to withdraw all cases against Quattrocchi in view of the 2004 ruling of the Delhi High Court, which had said that no case of corruption was made out in the Bofors deal’.
Subramanium also told that, ‘All efforts to extradite Quattrocchi have failed as various courts the world over, including those of Argentina and Malaysia, have found no case against him’.
While intimating the apex court of the government’s decision, the law officer referred to a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy to defraud the Indian exchequer, pending with a Delhi court.
With the 2004 verdict of the Delhi High Court ruling out any case of corruption in the Bofors gun purchase, the case is now live only in the form of a cheating case, pending with the court of the Delhi Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
Subramanium notified the apex court of the government’s intention to stop Quattrocchi’s prosecution in India,
The Supreme Court was hearing a lawsuit of 2006, which had made an abortive demand for freezing of Quattrocchi’s account with a London bank, suspected to be holding his alleged kickbacks from the gun purchase deal.
Subramanium said the government came to the decision to close the case under section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code after taking into account all the facts of the case.
Advocate Ajay Agrawal, who had moved the apex court in January 2006, against the defreezing of Quattrocchi’s bank account in London, opposed the stand of the government and the CBI.
“Quattrocchi has been treated by this government as the son-in-law of this country,” he said about the businessman, who is now the sole accused in the case after the Delhi High Court verdict, which quashed charges against the other accused including the Hinduja brothers.
“The CBI and the entire government is trying to close the case,” said Agrawal, who has also challenged the high court’s ruling after the CBI failed to go in for an appeal against it.
Subramanium, who once objected to the description of Quattrocchi as “son-in-law”, said the CBI had tried to get him extradited following the Interpol Red Corner notice issued against him but failed.
He said a call had to be taken for the closure of the case and the CBI and the government took into consideration the Feb 4, 2004 verdict of the high court which held that “there was not a rubble of evidence under the Prevention of Corruption Act and as such no appeal was filed against the decision.”