India police charge Rheinmetall official with bribery

NEW DELHI Fri Jun 7, 2013 2:58am EDT

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

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

Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police have filed charges against a Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD) official and two others in connection with allegations that the Swiss-based arms company paid bribes to help it avoid being blacklisted in India, police said on Friday.

Police said they had charged Gerhard Hoy, the India representative of Rheinmetall, with bribery, along with Indian businessman Abhishek 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 defense 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 defense group Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI), in relation to a 560 million euro ($739 million)helicopter deal. ($1 = 0.7579 euros)

(Reporting by Anurag Kotoky; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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