Wed, 25 Apr 2012 08:53:25 GMT

How Rajiv Gandhi protected Quattrocchi: 25 years on, Bofors whistleblower reveals identity

A quarter century ago, almost to the day, a secret 'source' in Sweden handed over a tome of documents to The Hindu's Chitra Subramaniam. Now, that 'source' has called on the same journalist to reveal who he is to the world — Sten Lindstrom, the then head of Swedish police, who spearheaded the probe into the Bofors deal with India.


How Rajiv Gandhi protected Quattrocchi: 25 years on, Bofors whistleblower reveals identity

In an interview presented in The Hoot on Tuesday, Lindstrom talks about his decision to leak more than 300 documents -- which included payment instructions to banks, open and secret contracts, hand written notes, minutes of meetings and a diary -- a move that led to the political downfall of an Indian prime minister and "blew gaping holes into a Swedish prime minister's record as a champion of peace and disarmament. Above all, they formed the basis for the first ever transfer of secret bank documents from Switzerland to India".

Announcing himself as the legendary Swedish Deep Throat, Lindstrom talks to Subramaniam (now Subramaniam-Duella) and explains why he chose to turn whistleblower.

Excerpts from the interview:

Why did you decide to identify yourself now?

Twenty five years is a good land-mark. We have had some time for reflection. Now it is time to speak again.

Bofors was a good company. Their products were good. Unfortunately in the race to expand business, they resorted to illegal shipments, bribery and corruption. They claimed a tax-deduction for the money they had to pay as bribes.

In my long career as a police officer I have seen many things. What was shocking in the whole Bofors-India saga was the scale of political involvement in Sweden breaking all rules including those we set for ourselves. There was disbelief and hurt when they found that some of their top politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen were no better than others. The $1.3 billion deal with India for the sale of 410 field howitzers, and a supply contract almost twice that amount was the biggest arms deal ever in Sweden. Money marked for development projects was diverted to secure this contract at any cost. Rules were flouted, institutions were bypassed and honest Swedish officials and politicians were kept in the dark. Our former Prime Minister Olof Palme was talking peace, disarmament and sustainable development globally, while we were selling arms illegally, including to countries that were on our banned list.

(Continued)
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