Britain-based manufacturing multinational Rolls-Royce may have paid an "Indian agent" among others to win defence deals in twelve countries, according to reports by The Guardian and BBC. India's defence procurement procedure prohibits the payment of commission or the involvement of a middleman. The company, however, has claimed a policy of "zero tolerance to corruption" and said it was "cooperating" with the authorities investigating the case.
One of the agents under the scanner is London-based Sudhir Choudhrie and his son Bhanu. The Choudhries have denied any illegal activity, though. Sudhir is on India's blacklist for "corrupt or irregular practice"', BBC reported. He has been accused of receiving £10 million to secure a contract for Hawk aircraft engines to India.
In 2004, India ordered 66 Hawk jets from the company. According to a report by The Financial Express, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce had had signed a £700 million-deal to supply 57 Hawk training jets to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in 2010. On October 14, The Indian Express had reported that Choudhrie and his family members had benefitted from an offshore foundation set up by Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian firm that is currently being investigated for corruption as well.
Chaudhrie has served as adviser to United Kingdom's Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and his family has donated large sums to the political party. The media investigation, aired on BBC's Panorama, claims that the company has been benefiting from illegal deals for several years. It has alleged that Rolls-Royce has agents in Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Angola, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
Sudhir and Bhanu Choudhrie were arrested in 2014 during an investigation into Rolls-Royce dealings by the Serious Fraud Office investigation into Rolls-Royce, the reports said. Both were released without charge.
The multinational makes engines for commercial and military aircraft, power systems for ships, oil rigs and trains. It sold its car manufacturing unit to to BMW nearly 20 years ago.
The development follows an investigation into Embraer's dealing with defence agents. The Brazilian-based company has been accused of paying commission to a Indian agent, Vipin Khanna, to secure defence deals.