India’s top court gives govt 10 days to reveal details of military jet deal

The purchase of 36 Rafale planes has become a major political controversy in India. (AFP)
Updated 31 October 2018
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India’s top court gives govt 10 days to reveal details of military jet deal

  • The court said that the government should share the details of an $8.7-billion military jet deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to former ministers and an activist who say the information should be in the public domain

NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Wednesday gave the government 10 days to disclose the details of an $8.7-billion military jet deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to former ministers and an activist who say the information should be in the public domain.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale planes has become a major political controversy because of the escalating price and a decision to pick billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense as a domestic partner.
Reliance, which has no aeronautical expertise, was chosen instead of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics, which has a long history of making planes.
The Supreme Court ruled that if the material was strategic in nature or involved national security, the government might choose not to reveal it to the petitioners, but will instead have to furnish it to the court in a sealed package.
“We ask the center to give details of the pricing and strategic details of Rafale fighter aircraft in sealed cover in 10 days,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, referring to the government.
The ruling came in a hearing on petitions including a joint plea by former government ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, along with lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, on the jet deal.
“There should be a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Rafale deals,” Bhushan told the panel of three judges during arguments.
The court’s order was a “very, very substantial step forward,” another petitioner, Arun Shourie, told television channel NDTV after the order.
“Confidentiality does not relate to price, only technical specifications,” he added. “It will be subject to challenge. It will be difficult to say pricing is confidential.”
The Official Secrets Act covers most of the details regarding the Rafale jets, including pricing, and it would not be possible for the government to share them with anyone, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, representing the government, told the court.
The panel said that if the government felt the pricing of the Rafale jet could not be shared with the court, even in a sealed cover, it should say so in an affidavit.
The Supreme Court also asked the government to give copies of the decision-making process to the petitioners.


Ex-Goldman banker to finish Malaysia legal process before US extradition

Updated 52 min 46 sec ago
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Ex-Goldman banker to finish Malaysia legal process before US extradition

  • Goldman’s role is under scrutiny as the Wall Street titan helped arrange $6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB
  • Authorities in Malaysia and the US accuse former employees of bribery and stealing billions of dollars

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A former Goldman Sachs banker accused of involvement in the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal will only be extradited to the United States after legal proceedings against him in Malaysia are completed, a minister said.
Huge sums of public money were purportedly stolen from Malaysian state fund 1MDB and used to buy everything from yachts to art in a scheme that allegedly involved former premier Najib Razak and contributed to his government’s election defeat.
Goldman’s role is under scrutiny as the Wall Street titan helped arrange $6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB. Authorities in Malaysia and the US accuse former employees of bribery and stealing billions of dollars, and investigators believe cash was laundered through the US financial system.
Malaysian Ng Chong Hwa, a former managing director at the bank, was indicted in November when US authorities also lodged an extradition request. He has been in custody in Malaysia since the US indictment.
Malaysia also filed charges against Ng, more commonly known as Roger Ng, as well as Goldman.
At a court hearing last week, Ng agreed to stop fighting the extradition request and said he wanted to be sent to the US within 30 days.
But Malaysia’s government must approve his extradition, and Interior Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Ng’s case in Malaysia must go ahead first.
“We will honor the extradition but we will prioritize the case in Malaysia until it is completed. This is the advice of the attorney-general, and we will abide by it,” Yassin said.
Ng’s case will likely come before the Malaysian courts again next month, he said.
Ng was charged in Malaysia in December with four counts related to 1MDB, and has pleaded not guilty. He faces up to 40 years in jail if convicted.
As well as Ng, former Goldman partner Tim Leissner and the bank’s subsidiaries are also accused of making false statements in order to steal billions of dollars, and of bribing officials.
Leissner has already pleaded guilty in the US to 1MDB-linked charges.