NEW DELHI, India, June 23, Reuter: India has ordered a probe into purported new evidence in the Bofors arms scandal, a government spokesman said.

The move on Wednesday came after the Hindu newspaper published documents it alleged confirmed the Swedish arms company Bofors made secret payoffs to Indians to secure a defense contract.

The report in the restricted independent paper revived controversy over charges that Indian officials took bribes in awarding a 1.3 billion dollar artillery contract to Bofors.

Opposition politicians rejected the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations as a ~ cover up. The inquiry upheld the government’s stand that no payoffs had been made.

 The scandal has been a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government and contributed to a humiliating defeat for his Congress (I) Party in a parliamentary byelection last week.

 The Hindu said the documents it published on Wednesday had come from “highly authorities’ sources”.

It said they proved that Bofors had paid some 188.4 million kroner (32.4 million dollars) into secret bank accounts held by Indians.

It said an Indian businessman, Win Chadha, had served as a “conduit” for the funds.

Chadha, who was linked to the allegations early, last year, has denied the charges.

The spokesman told Reuters the government had ordered an investigation into the new allegations. He said steps were also being taken to obtain a court order preventing Chadha from leaving India.

The Hindu said: “The payments themselves violated Indian laws, represented a major breach of faith and in a political ethical sense constituted a. massive fraud on the Indian people”.

It accused Bofors of misleading the Indian Parliamentary probe by saying it had paid only “winding up” costs and not commissions in the process of securing the contract.

Bofors said it paid 319.4 million kroner (55 million dollars) as winding up charges to three unnamed Indian companies.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 1, 1988