CBI charges Abhishek Verma, Rheinmetall official with bribery

NEW DELHI Fri Jun 7, 2013 12:39pm IST

Businessman Abhishek Verma (C) leaves the court after his hearing in New Delhi June 9, 2012. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma/Files

Businessman Abhishek Verma (C) leaves the court after his hearing in New Delhi June 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed charges against businessman Abhishek Verma, his wife and an official of Swiss-based arms company Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) in connection with allegations that RAD paid bribes to help it avoid being blacklisted in India, officials said on Friday.

The CBI said they had charged Gerhard Hoy, the India representative of Rheinmetall, with bribery, along with Verma and his Romanian-born wife, Anca Neacsu.

Verma and Neacsu are already in custody but police would not say whether they planned to arrest Hoy. Reuters was unable to contact Hoy for comment.

Last year, RAD, a unit of German automotive parts and defence group Rheinmetall AG (RHMG.DE), was placed on a blacklist of arms firms banned from doing business in India - the world's largest arms buyer - following corruption allegations that the company denied.

Police allege that RAD transferred $530,000 to a New York bank account belonging to Ganton Ltd, a Verma-owned U.S.-based company. Verma promised to stall the blacklisting process in exchange for money, according to the police chargesheet filed late on Thursday.

A Rheinmetall spokesman was not available to comment.

India is also investigating corruption accusations against AgustaWestland, a division of Italian defence group Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI), in relation to a 560 million eurohelicopter deal.

(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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