Chronology: Bofors graft row over 27 years

New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi who died of a heart attack in Milan Friday was formally charged inm court for allegedly being involved in the 1986 Bofors howitzer payoff scam, one of the major corruption scandals in India.

The following is a chronology of events since 1986 in which then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and others were accused of receiving kickbacks from the Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors:

* March 24, 1986: A $15 billion contract between the Indian government and Swedish arms company AB Bofors is signed for the supply of over 400 155mm Howitzer field guns.

* April 16, 1987: Swedish Radio claims Bofors paid kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials to secure the deal. The claim was denied by Rajiv Gandhi.

* Aug 6, 1987: A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is set up to probe the allegations. It submits its report two years later.

* Nov 1989: With the opposition BJP making the Bofors kickbacks a poll issue, Rajiv Gandhi's Congress party is voted out of power in the general elections.

* Dec 26, 1989: Prime Minister V.P. Singh's government bars Bofors from entering into any defence contract with India.

* Jan 22, 1990: The CBI registers a complaint, following which Swiss authorities freeze accounts of Svenska and AE Services, which allegedly received unauthorised commissions for the deal.

* May 21, 1991: While the case is being investigated, Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated.

* July 29/30, 1993: Quattrocchi, who represented Italian fertiliser firm Snam Progetti for years, leaves India to avoid arrest.

* Jan 21, 1997: After four years of legal wrangles, secret documents running into over 500 pages are given to Indian authorities in Berne.

* Jan 30, 1997: CBI sets up special investigation team for the case.

1997: CBI files a case against Quattrocchi, former Bofors agent Win Chadha, defence secretary S.K. Bhatnagar, former Bofors chief Martin Ardbo and the Bofors company. Rajiv Gandhi's name figures as "an accused not sent for trial" as he was assassinated in 1991.

* March 18, 2000: Chadha comes to India to face trial.

* Sep 29, 2000: Hindujas issue statement saying funds received by them from Bofors have no connection with the gun deal.

* Oct 9, 2000: CBI files supplementary charge sheet, naming the Hinduja brothers as accused.

* Dec 20, 2000: Quattrocchi arrested in Malaysia, gets bail but is asked to stay in the country.

* August/October, 2001: Former defence secretary Bhatnagar dies of cancer. Win Chadha dies of a heart attack.

* Feb 4, 2004: Delhi High Court clears Rajiv Gandhi of involvement in the scandal.

* May 31, 2005: Delhi High Court clears the Hindujas of involvement.

* Feb 6, 2007: Quattrocchi is detained in Argentina on Interpol lookout notice but later released.

* Sep 29, 2009: Government tells Supreme Court about its decision to withdraw the case against Quattrocchi.

* Dec 14, 2010: A Delhi court reserves its order on a CBI plea seeking to drop criminal proceedings against Quattrocchi.

* Jan 3, 2011: An Income Tax tribunal rules that commission in violation of Indian laws was indeed paid to Quattrochi and Win Chadha in the gun deal that cost the national exchequer Rs.412.4 million some 23 years ago.

* March 4, 2011: A Delhi court allows the CBI to drop all charges against Quattrochhi and to close the case.

* April 24, 2012: Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom reveals he was "Deep Throat", the key source of journalist Chitra Subramaniam Duella's stories. He says no evidence of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi or Amitabh Bachchan in the Bofors pay-off scandal.

* July 13, 2013: Quattrochhi dies of heart attack in Milan, Italy, aged 74.

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