Rolls-Royce have been accused of making secret cash payments to an Indian agent in a recent report.
Rolls-Royce have been accused of making secret cash payments to an Indian agent in a recent report.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — According to a recent investigation conducted by BBC and The Guardian, new evidence suggesting luxury automaker and engine supplier Rolls-Royce was involved in corruption has surfaced.

The company made secret payments of around £10m to an unregistered Indian agent, according to the report. Further evidence of suspicious cash payments being made was revealed, payments that may have helped Rolls-Royce win a major contract for engines on Hawk aircraft.

Rolls-Royce have maintained the company has a zero-tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption. Regardless, it remains illegal to pay secret middlemen or bridge brokers to win defense contracts in India.

However, the report said Rolls-Royce paid money to companies linked to arms dealer Sudhir Choudhrie, a man who is also on an Indian government blacklist of people suspected of “corrupt or irregular practice.”

Choudhrie’s lawyers were quoted in the report as saying he “has never paid bribes to government officials or acted as an illegal middleman in defense deals”. They said he has “no knowledge of the contents” of the list.

Choudhrie, a billionaire who lives in London, has previously been photographed while receiving a business award from Prime Minister Theresa May. He is an adviser on India to the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and his family has donated more than £1.6m to the party.

As mentioned, the investigation also found evidence of a suspicious payment that was made in cash.

It involves Choudhrie’s son, Bhanu, who took a trip to Switzerland in 2007 with an arms executive named Peter Ginger. During the trip, the report alleges, Ginger made a cash payment amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds into a secret bank account. The account was opened in the name of “Portsmouth,” according to the report, and bank documents seen by reporters revealed a balance of more than 1m Swiss francs.

Ginger would additionally serve as a key negotiator on the sale of Hawk aircraft to the Indian government. All of the planes had Rolls-Royce engines and the deal was worth around £400m to the company.

Bhanu Choudhrie’s lawyers said he has never been paid to secure deals for Rolls-Royce in India, including the sale of Hawk jets.

“Mr Choudhrie has never paid any bribe to Mr Ginger or anyone else,” his lawyers said, according to the report. “Mr Choudhrie has no knowledge of what bank accounts have been set up or operated by Mr Ginger or what sums (if any) he has deposited in them in cash.”

However, in 2014, Bhanu and Sudhir Choudhrie were arrested as part of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into Rolls-Royce. Both were released without charge. Rolls-Royce says it is “fully co-operating with the authorities” and “cannot comment on ongoing investigations.” The company, which employs more than 20,000 in the UK alone, makes engines for commercial and military aircraft, along with power systems used by ships, oil rigs and trains, but no longer makes cars. That part of the business was sold to BMW nearly 20 years ago.

The report further reveals, according to a Brazilian prosecutor, Rolls-Royce are also facing a corruption and bribery investigation in that country as well. It is alleged Rolls-Royce paid bribes to win a $100m contract to supply power systems to the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.