Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the interview of former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom in relation to the Bofors scam clearly revealed that the payments made to Ottavio Quattrocchi's company, AE Services, were political payments and since Rajiv Gandhi was close to him, he was not named.
In an interview with IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Jaitley added that the judicial and investigative process into the scam was subverted during Congress governments to give a clean chit of innocence to those who were actually involved.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Jaitley, you were among the politicians who took the lead in claiming that Rajiv Gandhi received the Bofors kickbacks. Now, the former Swedish police chief Lindstrom says there is no evidence to say Rajiv Gandhi took a bribe... Where does that leave your claim?
Arun Jaitley: I have read the entire interview. The interview says that there is no evidence of money going directly to the former prime minister. The monies went to a company called AE Services. This company is controlled by Ottavio Quattrocchi. Ottavio Quattrocchi was very close to the prime minister and that is why the reason that his name ought not to be mentioned and therefore when the monies landed up in Geneva and the enquiry of AE Services was taking place it was concluded that it was a political payment. Read all these sentences which I am quoting to you verbatim. The tenor is not to declare someone innocent or somebody guilty, the tenor of it is that monies went into not Mr Gandhi's account, there was no such account, the monies went into Mr Quattrocchi's account who was very close to prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and this was a political payment.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But sir... right through the 1989 election campaign, one recalls the likes of yourself and VP Singh claiming you had the Bofors account number in which Rajiv Gandhi had been paid monies. Was that simply a political witch-hunt at the time?
Arun Jaitley: You are putting words with a political slant. I again retreat and since I think it is necessary to put it on record, let me read out to you the exact sentence of what Lindstrom has said and the meaning is extremely clear. He also said this is what he refers to Martin Adrob's statement, he also mentioned a meeting between AE Services official and a Gandhi Trustee lawyer in Geneva. This was a political payment. If you can't conclude a direct meaning and interpretation of this, I can't help it. To me, this is as clear as daylight that monies went into the account of Mr Quattrocchi who was close to somebody and these were political payments.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But sir, if you were so convinced of Quattrocchi's role, why didn't you go for him and the Gandhi family when you and other non-Congress parties were in power in the last 25 years?
Arun Jaitley: Well that's factually incorrect what you say. Rajiv Gandhi government from 1986 to 1990 cover up. VP Singh's government for 11 months, FIR registered, accounts frozen and letter rogatory sent. Congress or Congress supported United Front government thereafter, nothing happened. Vajpayee's government from 1998, investigations concluded, 1999 chargesheet filed, charges framed, trial begins. 2004, when Congress comes back, you find an erroneous judgment of the Delhi High Court which quashes the whole case and the Congress government decides not to appeal against it. Therefore please put that blame on the basis of accurate facts on Congress or Congress supported governments. Whenever there was an Opposition government for short periods in between, this case did proceed.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So, as far as you are concerned, nothing that Lindstrom has said will make you revise your opinion on the Bofors case and the role of the Gandhi family in it?
Arun Jaitley: Well I think the case as far as kickbacks were paid, kickbacks were paid to someone extremely close to the then powers that be. The fact that those kickbacks did influence the contract, the fact that there was a cover up I think those stand is established from a series of factors. It's also equally true that the judicial and investigative process during Congress governments had been subverted to give a clean chit of innocence to those who were actually involved.