Top Bofors investigator clears Rajiv Gandhi; but says he abetted cover-up

The former head of Swedish police who investigated the Bofors deal on Tuesday said there was no evidence that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi directly took a bribe; but added that he did nothing to stop the subsequent cover-up of kickbacks in the deal to buy AB Bofors gun for the army.

The allegations of kickbacks in the deal had rocked the nation 25 years ago and helped bring down Gandhi's government.

Sten Lindstrom, the former police chief, also revealed himself as the whistleblower who had informed journalist Chitra Subramanian-Duella, who broke the story in the Hindu, about irregularities in the deal. Lindstrom had operated under the pseudonym Swedish Deep Throat.

But while exonerating Gandhi of direct bribe-taking, Lindstrom added that he had done nothing to prevent a massive cover-up all around.

In an interview on the Indian media website The Hoot, Lindstrom said that "there was no evidence that he (former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi) had received any bribe" in the deal. "But he watched the massive cover-up in India and Sweden and did nothing. Many Indian institutions were tarred and innocent people were punished while the guilty got away."

Bofors was accused of paying $1.3 billion in bribes to secure a deal for 400 Howitzers with the Indian Army in 1986. The furore orchestrated by Gandhi's cabinet colleague V P Singh brought down the government in 1989; with Singh becoming prime minister of the subsequent government.