NEW DELHI, India, April 26, Reuter: An Indian Parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday brushed aside charges that bribes or commissions were paid to help Swedish arms maker Bofors clinch a 1.3 billion dollar artillery sale.

Its 404-page report released in Parliament said there was “no evidence to substantiate the allegations of commissions or bribes having been paid to anyone”.

Opposition members jeered and hooted as the report was presented to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House), and threw torn up Parliamentary papers at the government side.

The report said the government would not cancel the contract for the 155mm Howitzers nor demand reimbursement from Bofors for payment to three nonIndian companies for consultancy and marketing services.

The 30member committee was appointed in August 1987 to investigate allegations that Bofors paid about 50 million dollars in commissions to secure the order.

Indian government policy bars payment of commissions to agents in arms deals.

The charges were first made by a Swedish state radio station a year ago and severely damaged the credibility of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his government.

Both the Indian government and the arms maker have denied any wrongdoing and Gandhi himself declared on the floor of Parliament neither he nor any member of his family took any bribes.

Opposition members labeled the committee a farce and boycotted the investigation.

The report said while it concluded that Bofors paid 319.4 Swedish Kroner (55 million dollars) to three companies, the Swedish firm did not furnish full details of the payments.

Bofors, a Subsidiary of Nobel industries AB, has described the payments as winding up charges.

“It has not been possible for either our investigating agencies or any other source to find any evidence regarding the identity of recipients”, it said, concluding that the question of payments to any Indian or Indian company did not arise.

Sweden’s Chief prosecutor last January dropped his own investigations after establishing that Bofors had paid money into Swiss bank accounts of three companies.

The prosecutor, Lars Ringberg, said there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the Prosecution.

Opposition Raps Report

NEW DELHI, India: Indian opposition parties accused Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of a cover up after an inquiry cleared his government of corruption in the Bofors gun deal scandal. Both left and right wing parties rejected a report by a Parliamentary committee which said it had no evidence that bribes were paid to help the Swedish firm clinch a 1.3 billion dollar artillery sale to the Indian army.


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