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Defence firms under scanner for Bhandari links

Some leading foreign defence firms, who are major players in the Indian market, have come under the scanner of investigating agencies for their alleged links with defence consultant Sanjay Bhandari who is being probe for alleged tax evasion.

Defence firms under scanner for Bhandari links
Sanjay Bhandari

Sources said Bhandari’s call data records and documents seized from his premises during a recent IT search have allegedly showed that a number of officials from different foreign defence firms were in touch with him on a regular basis. 

He is said to have played a role in bagging contracts by the defence firms.

While the companies claimed that they were in touch with him and many Indian firms for offset obligations, investigating agencies believe there is more to it. Bhandari runs a company involved in carrying out offsets.

During the searches carried out by the Income Tax department, papers of the Defence Ministry, including those related to a much-delayed proposal to buy mid-air refuellers, were allegedly found in his possession.

Airbus, a contender for the contract, did not respond to emails sent by PTI asking if it was in touch with Bhandari. Investigators are now looking into how and why he got the documents. 

Another company under the scanner is French defence major Thales whose senior employees were in touch with Bhandari, the sources said, as per his call data records. 

“We understand from media reports that there is an ongoing investigation. We do not comment on the same,” Thales said in a statement to PTI.

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