After nearly 20 years of the revelation of the Bofors scandal, an interesting turn came to light with the death of one of its accused, Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, a representative of petrochemical firm, Snamprogetti. Bofors was one of the largest corruption scandals in India, involving politicians like Rajiv Gandhi, dealing with an exorbitant amount of 640 million (US$11 million),which was exposed through a team of journalists led by N. Ram of The Hindu. The 74-year old businessman died due to a cardiac arrest.
Ottavio Quattrocchi was charged with being the medium in the bribes that were allegedly paid to speed up the Bofors gun deal, signed between the Congress government and now dysfunctional Swedish arms company AB Bofors.
The Bofors chargesheet filed by the CBI in 1991 named Quattrocchi as one of the accused in a case involving 64 crore payoffs for supply of Swedish Howitzer guns to the Indian Army in the 90’s. The 1600 crore contract was executed in 1986.
On March 4th, 2011, Quattrocchi was discharged by the Tis Hazari court for the alleged payoffs after CBI withdrew prosecution charges against him, putting a full stop to a major chapter in the Bofors tale. An application for the withdrawal of the case against Quattrocchi was filed by the public prosecutor on October 3, 2009.
The CBI failed to extradite Quattrocchi to India from Malaysia in 2002 and Argentina in 2007, due to lack of extradition treaty with these countries.
Defence Minister, AK Anthony said, “The government does not plan to launch any fresh investigation into the Bofors scandal and that Quattrocchi stands as a “free man” as he could not be extradited even after 20 years of registration of the case.”
With the death of one of the key accused in one of the greatest scams of our country, it can be said that the Congress government will close the case. This lets the Congress leave behind their past misdeeds of such an exorbitant amount, which could have been used for the progress of the country instead.
Bofors scandal will remain an epitome of how widespread corruption is in Indian politics, compromising the security of our country. It will always signify the misdeeds of Congress in 1980-90, which will haunt them for times to come.