NEW DELHI, India, July 27, Reuter: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi faced fresh and possibly explosive charges today that his government is covering up large scale corruption by senior Officials in his administration.

A US. investigator the government hired to unearth illegal overseas financial dealings by Indians, but later fired, was quoted as saying he had indications of “large scale corruption” in Gandhi’s administration.

There was “an incredible amount tens of millions of dollars in several Swiss bank accounts belonging to high-level Indian officials,” Michael Hershman, President of Fairfax group of Annandale, Virginia, told the independent Delhi newspaper the Statesman.

“Switzerland is literally overflowing with their money”, he added in an interview conducted at his U.S. headquarters yesterday, saying Gandhi’s government launched a cover-up in January when it learned how his inquiries were progressing.

In a connected development, India’s biggest circulation newspaper said it had documentary proof that a junior minister lied to Parliament in March by denying the government ever hire Fairfax.

“A minister’s life, nailed by his own hand,” proclaimed a FrontPage headline in the Indian Express.

Above was a partial photocopy of what it said was a report by a Finance Ministry official that he had hired Fairfax. The report was annotated by Brahm Dutt, the minister who a month later denied the hiring to Parliament, the Express said.

Gandhi faces a stormy Parliamentary session under his handling of the Fairfax affair and an outcry over an alleged 40 million dollar payoff to Indian middlemen in a purchase of Howitzers from Bofors of Sweden.

The scandals have tarnished Gandhi’s image and added to discontent over his leadership in the Congress (I) Party and the government, leading to several firings and resignations.

Twelve opposition parties are to press for a full inquiry when debates in Parliament’s month-long “Monsoon Session” start tomorrow. Today’s opening session adjourned without debate to mourn the recent death of former Prime Minister Charan Singh.

The opposition and dissidents in Gandhi’s party want to know whom Fairfax was investigating when its investigation was stopped and who the middlemen in the Bofors deal were.

Hershman told the Statesman Fairfax probed Indian individuals and companies, including the textile giant reliance industries, in the United States, Switzerland, England and other countries after being hired by the finance ministry. “We had collected information indicating large-scale corruption within Mr, Gandhi’s administration”, he said.

“Once it became known we were on the verge of substantiating that information, action was taken within the Gandhi administration to curtail the investigation”.

This included switching Finance Minister V.P. Singh to the Defense Ministry, removing senior official Bhure Lal who hired Fairfax, terminating Fairfax’s contract and publishing a forged letter to blacken the company’s name.

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 31, 1987