The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started investigating Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) $208 million deal with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer for Emb-145 aircraft.
CBI's move comes after Defence Ministry requested it to look into alleged kickbacks. Defence Ministry has also handed over key documents regarding the deal, which includes minutes of the meetings.
CBI on its part has registered a preliminary enquiry into the deal that was signed by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
"The preliminary enquiry has been registered on a reference from the Defence Ministry. The contracts include the one with the Defence Research and Development Organisation in 2008," the Hindu quoted a CBI official as saying.
According to documents with the Times of India, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi (retired), former Indian Air Force chief, had chaired several meetings with S Christopher, the current DRDO chief, and Air Marshal AK Nagalia (retired), former deputy chief of air staff, and others, where Embraer project was discussed.
Embraer's deal came under scanner for alleged bribery after it surfaced that the company might have hired middlemen or agents in the UK to swing the deal in its favour in India and Saudi Arabia. India's defence policy does not allow hiring of middlemen.
The deal envisaged India getting three aircraft that would be fitted with indigenous airborne early warning and control systems for the Indian Air Force. India has received all the three aircraft.
Apart from the CBI probe, India is using diplomatic channels from countries like the US and Brazil to aid in its investigation.
The US has been investigating Embraer since 2010 under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and recently expanded its investigation into Embraer's sales in India.