To prevent further embarrassment to former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Government of Sweden called off its probe of the Bofors Gun scandal as far back as January 1988, a declassified “confidential assessment” made by the United States Central Intelligence Agency has revealed.
According to the assessment, “Stockholm wanted to save Gandhi the troubles caused him (sic) by the Swedish leak and Nobel industries (the mother company) wanted to avoid a bribery indictment. The two sides cooperated, therefore, on a scheme to keep details of the payments secret.
Stockholm eventually “called off the entire bribery investigation,” a secret CIA assessment titled ‘Sweden’s Bofors Arms Scandal’ reads.
The detailed assessment was conducted in April 1988, two years after India signed a USD 1.5-billion deal for the howitzers. The West European division of the CIA shared inputs that Sweden and India worked together and that Bofors ‘almost certainly’ made payments to secure the howitzer deal.
The recently declassified CIA records reveal that Washington was closely following the Bofors scandal and its possible fallouts in India and Sweden.
The document on the arms scandal has been heavily redacted but contains a detailed timeline of the investigations, including the fact that a national audit conducted by Stockholm indicated that $40 million was paid in commission to middlemen.
“This investigation was terminated in late January 1988, following a trip by Indian prime minister Gandhi to Stockholm. The CIA assessment then was that “Bofors almost certainly made payments – either straight to Indian officials or to middlemen who in turn paid off officials – to secure the USD 1.2 billion sale (sic) of howitzers”.
The aftermath of the Bofors scandal led to Gandhi losing the general elections in 1989 but investigations have lingered on, without coming to any certain conclusion.
A chargesheet was filed by the CBI in 1999, naming Swiss businessman Quattarocchi and Rajiv Gandhi and the case is currently being heard by the Supreme Court.
In the last hearing in December 2016, the CBI told the Supreme Court that it was refused permission by authorities in 2015 to appeal against a Delhi.