Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Quattrocchi has threatened filing libel charges .... Please Go Ahead and Do It Uncle!!!!!!

News about Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi being freed by the local court in Argentina was only expected. The CBI, after all, could not have presented a foolproof case before the judge. This is not to say that Quattrocchi is innocent in the Bofors payoff case. He was a recipient of the payoff by the Swedish gun manufacturer and the money was put into his coded accounts in the Swiss Banks because the gun manufacturer was convinced about his ability to swing the deal. The gun manufacturer was convinced of that because they knew about his proximity with Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India.It is also a fact that the coded accounts into which money was put into belonged to AE Services through a Panama based shell company called Colbar Investments. Quattrocchi and his wife Maria were registered owners of Colbar Investments and it is also a fact that the money parked into the Coded accounts in the Swiss Bank were siphoned out to find its way into a London Bank. Quattrocchi flew out of India in the night of July 29, 1993 only after the Swiss Courts confirmed his name to be one of the litigants pleading against disclosure of the names of the holders of the coded accounts into which Bofors had paid huge sums between December 1986 and March 1987. And the CBI got possession of the details of these accounts in the Swiss Banks in 1997.The then CBI Chief, Joginder Singh, went to Geneva and obtained all the documents pertaining to the illegal payments to convince, one and all, that middlemen were involved in the Bofors deal and that Quattrocchi, Win Chadha and the Hinduja brothers were all acting as middlemen in that deal. The fact is that involvement of such middlemen was not allowed in the contract and hence it was a clear case of cheating and fraud.The CBI was convinced of all that then and hence issued a Red Corner notice, served through the Interpol seeking Quattrocchi's arrest anywhere in the world. The March 17, 2007 arrest of this fugitive who is also an old friend of Sonia Gandhi and her family was done on the basis of this notice. The CBI, however, seemed to think differently in 2007. The reason is not far to seek. It would have been a surprise if the investigating agency had thought the same way as it did in 1997. The Congress party was not in power at that time and Quattrocchi's friend, Sonia Gandhi, was not known to wield any influence in the corridors of power in New Delhi at that time.This short recap of the Bofors story and the Quattrocchi connection is in order only to convince the citizens of this country that all the charges against the Italian businessman are well founded and are now known to some of us only because the CBI investigation, at various stages when the Congress party was not in power, unraveled these facts. The Bofors investigation was on track between December 1989 and November 1990 (when V.P.Singh was Prime Minister) and then between May 1996 and November 1998 (when Deve Gowda and Gujral were Prime Ministers). And the investigation was based on documents obtained and published by N.Ram and Arun Shourie, the two crusading journalists of recent times.Well. It will be wishful thinking to expect any further progress towards justice in the case and Quattrocchi's prosecution in the near future. This is true at least until May 2009. The Congress party will continue to remain in power until then and Sonia Gandhi will remain the most influential leader. And even if things change after May 2009, it is unlikely that the leaders of that new regime will be interested in pursuing this case further. There is, after all, a consensus among the political leaders on the inevitability of corruption and striking deals!There is, however, a streak of light at the end of the tunnel. And that is Quattrocchi's threat now that he will sue some politicians and others in India for hounding him all these years. It will be great if the Italian fugitive does that. For, it will then be possible, for those whom he sues to defend their own role and unravel the truth in the courts. In other words, truth is a valid defense in cases of defamation. And it is possible that the defenders in this context will not have to depend on the government's lawyers.Let us welcome Quattrocchi to go ahead with his threat. And then we can establish that the charges against him; that he is a wheeler dealer who played around in the corridors of power in New Delhi with impunity, subverting the law of the land and that he is a cheat; will all be established. Please carry out your threat Mr.Quattrocchi.


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