Shortly after closing the Soltam anti-material rifle bribery case, the CBI is also set to close its probe into corruption allegations in the Rs 393 crore deal to buy Barak missiles from Israel.
The imminent closure of the 2006 case is being seen as the reason behind the defence ministry’s decision Monday to pursue the deal to buy 262 missiles manufactured by Israel’s Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries.
Officials said the paucity of evidence in bribery scandals had been discussed more than once when MoD officials and top CBI officers reviewed defence investigations and that the Barak case figured prominently in the discussions.
Sources said a formal closure report in the October 2006 case could be filed as early as the end of this month.
They said the procurement of missiles for the Barak systems was discussed at the defence acquisition council meeting Monday and it was decided to set up a special panel to clear the deal.
The panel was set up after MoD received a favourable opinion from the Attorney General on signing a contract, sources said.
The Barak case was among the biggest referred to the CBI following the Tehelka expose and its FIR named former defence minister George Fernandes, former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly, former Navy chief Sushil Kumar and defence agent Suresh Nanda, among others.
The agency had alleged that former Admiral S M Nanda’s son Suresh Nanda bribed the Samata Party to get Fernandes to clear the deal when he was defence minister. Nanda allegedly paid Rs 2 crore to get the NDA government’s signature on a contract for the Barak anti-missile systems and missiles.
The CBI had also alleged that total kickbacks amounting to Rs 174 crore were paid in the deal.
The FIR had put the Navy in a tight spot as the Barak system was fitted on 10 warships as the primary air defence system. The scandal had also hit procurement of missiles for the systems.