The Indian government has partially lifted the ban on commercial dealings with the Swiss aircraft manufacturer Pilatus after a freeze in July due to a corruption investigation.
Pilatus is accused of corruption and irregularities in connection with the supply of 75 training aircraft to the Indian air force. Earlier this week, the Indian Ministry of Defence authorised Pilatus, under certain conditions, to provide spare parts and maintenance services to enable the Indian army to maintain its fleet of 75 PC-7 MkII training planes purchased in 2012 for over half a billion Swiss francs.
The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation’s first information report, dated June 19, claims that in 2010 Pilatus transferred CHF1 million to an Indian bank account linked to the consultancy called Offset India Solutions Private Limited, which was run by notorious arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. In addition, the Swiss firm made huge deposits totalling CHF49,887,900 to the Dubai branch of the consultancy between 2011 and 2015.
“It is suspected that the said commission amount was paid in order to influence the public servants of the IAF [Indian Air Force] and MoD [Ministry of Defence] of the government of India associated with the process of the aforesaid procurement,” said the case report.
In view of these accusations, the Indian Ministry of Defence issued an order in July prohibiting Pilatus from operating in India for a period of one year. Contacted by the news agency AWP on Friday, Pilatus said refused to comment on the status of the contracts. Similarly, the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police was not ready to share whether a request for mutual legal assistance had been submitted by India.
The scandal has also meant that India decided to forego the option to purchase 38 additional aircraft provided for in the original 2012 contract, as reported by the English-language daily Hindustan Times on July 13.
Pilatus is also under scrutiny at home. Switzerland’s office of the attorney general has opened a criminal investigation in connection with the sale of military training aircraft to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.