CBI to ask Army chief for formal complaint

New Delhi: The CBI is likely to ask for a formal complaint from Army chief V K Singh in connection with his allegation that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear to swing a `sub-standard` defence deal.

Agency sources today said action would be intiated after getting a formal complaint from Singh. They said besides the complaint, he would also have to provide other details like date of meeting with the lobbyist, a possible witness list and supporting documents among other details in the case.

The sources said the agency has not registered any formal inquiry in the case so far and any action would be initiated after a formal communique from the Singh is received. They said they have received a "reference" from the Defence Ministry to probe the matter and it has been processed as per the laid down procedure.

The agency sources said a preliminary enquiry or an FIR could be registered soon after completion of the procedural requirements. The Army chief had claimed in a media interview that an equipment lobbyist had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore, a matter which he had reported to Defence Minister A K Antony.

Terming Gen Singh`s allegations as "serious", Antony had told reporters yesterday, "We have to handle it…I have taken action." The ministry had then recommended a CBI probe into the allegation made by the Army chief.

Defence Ministry sources have said the Army chief had informed the minister about the bribe offer "only verbally" and no written information was provided. They said since the information was not provided in writing, no action was taken and now that the issue has become public, a CBI probe has been ordered into it.

The Army chief has said the lobbyist offered him the bribe in order to have a tranche of 600 sub-standard vehicles of a particular make cleared for purchase. "Just imagine, one of these men had the gumption to walk up to me and tell me that if I cleared the tranche, he would give me Rs 14 crore. He was offering a bribe to me, to the Army chief. He told me that people had taken money before me and they will take money after me," Gen Singh has said.