Scorpene deal scam

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The Scorpene deal scam was an Indian bribery scandal, in which USD 175 million (Rupees 1,100 crores) were alleged to have been paid to government decision makers by Thales.[1] Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee had approved a deal to build Scorpene-class submarines worth US$ 6 billion (Rupees 19,000 crores) with Thales, France in October 2005. The investigating agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), found no evidence of corruption in the deal in 2008.[2][3] Scorpene submarines are now being built in India under a technology transfer agreement that was part of that contract.

Allegations and investigation[edit]

The amount of US$ 175 million was allegedly channeled and paid to middleman billionaire arms dealer Abhishek Verma who is known as the Lord of War[4] and is the prime accused in the Navy War Room spy scandal and many other defense scandals in India.[5]

The investigation moved very slowly. In 2007, Prashant Bhushan of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation filed a petition with the Delhi High Court to investigate whether there had been kickbacks in the Scorpene submarine deal. The Delhi High Court took a strong line with the investigating agency CBI, saying "We feel dissatisfied with that you've done so far. If you've tried to shield someone, then we will come down very heavily on you".[6] French submarine manufacturer Thales refuted the charges, with its country director in India, Francois Dupont, saying, "The e-mails are forgeries and we have sued the news magazine for this."[7] Arms dealer Abhishek Verma sued former Deputy Prime Minister of India L.K.Advani and Outlook magazine for criminal defamation in 2006 for maligning his name and launching attacks merely on account of political vendetta.[8] In 2016, Abhishek Verma and L.K.Advani resolved their differences amicably and Verma withdrew his defamation case against Advani from Punjab and Haryana High Court.[9]


In 2008, the CBI told the Delhi High Court that after investigations, it had found no evidence of payment of kickbacks in the US$ 6 billion deal. However the case dragged on for 8 years in Delhi High Court. On January 13, 2016 the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court dismissed the PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by Prashant Bhushan in 2007, thereby exonerating Abhishek Verma.[10][11][12]