CBI files closure report on Barak deal

 After seven years of investigations, the CBI on Tuesday filed a closure report on the Rs 1,150 crore Barak missile deal in which former defence minister George Fernandes and the then naval chief Admiral Sushil Kumar were accused of accepting bribes.

The agency filed the report before a special CBI court in the capital saying replies received from foreign countries do not substantiate the allegation of kickbacks levelled against the state-run company Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Fernandes, Kumar and former Samata Party officials Jaya Jaitley and R K Jain.

The allegations had triggered a political storm and the case was handed over to the CBI in 2006. It was alleged that Fernandes' associate Jaya Jaitley and others had received a bribe of Rs two crore in the Rs 1,150 crore Barak missiles deal in 2000.

Officials said a decision to close the case was taken as there no headway in the probe.
 The CBI had filed an FIR in a designated court on October 10, 2006 alleging that a sum of Rs 2 crore was paid to Jaitley, who acted as an "agent" to clinch the deal to buy seven Barak anti-missile defence (AMD) systems from the Israeli firm. CBI officials said judicial requests were sent to the UK, the UAE, Mauritius, Germany and Israel seeking details of financial transactions and other details of accused persons involved in the case.

Israel, in its reply to Letter Rogatory, denied making any payments to clinch the deal besides refusing to give any further details citing confidentiality. Replies from other countries also did not corroborate allegations levelled against IAI and other accused mentioned in the FIR.

During the probe, the CBI also said it did not find any evidence on the allegations levelled during the sting operation carried out by Tehelka.

The CBI had alleged that Kumar "colluded with other accused to put up a note" to Fernandes to import the Barak systems despite objections from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Fernandes not only approved the proposal for import of Barak AMD Systems but tried to get the proposal approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security despite objection by the then Defence Secretary, the CBI had alleged in its FIR.

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