Procurement: India Declares War On Bribes


December 24, 2007: Indian prosecutors are investigating two large military procurement deals, to discover if the suppliers got their contracts by paying bribes. Both suppliers are French. One is a $3 billion purchase of six Scorpene class diesel-electric subs. The other is a $600 million buy of 197 light helicopters. The bribes are believed to be in excess of $100 million. Such bribery incidents are not new in India, but for many decades, it was kept quiet. However, in the last few years, more journalists, including some particularly effective Internet based ones, have brought this culture of bribery out into the open.

Such bribery is not unusual with military procurement. It's been around for thousands of years. For many decades, such bribery was relatively low key in India, because the prime foreign arms supplier was Russia, and there were no competing suppliers. Not much opportunity to extract bribes. But since the 1990s, India has looked to acquire more advanced Western, mostly European, weapons. This brought in a new type of arms selling, by people who were accustomed to offering bribes, or anything else that would clinch the deal. As a result of the investigations, and evidence dug up on older deals, the helicopter buy has been cancelled. The submarine deal is a little farther along, but the Indians may be looking for prosecutions of guilty parties, and some restitution. All this is a big deal in Indian politics, because it is believed many of the bribes were directed at Indian political parties.


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