The power of Mr Q
Ottavio Quattrocchi has been demonized because of his involvement in the Bofors deal. His invincibility displayed through his dealing with India’s successive governments is traced to his links with Sonia Gandhi. But could it be the other way around? Could Sonia Gandhi’s invincibility despite specific charges against her of holding foreign accounts be traced to Quattrocchi? In other words, could Quattrocchi be representing a powerful international corporate mafia or foreign intelligence instead of being just a dubious individual player?
Need one recall that Rajiv Gandhi and Olof Palme, who finalized the Bofors deal, were assassinated? Mere coincidence?
The Bofors saga has obscured the reach and extent of Quattrocchi’s links to other activities. He seems to have represented a sinister nexus. Consider a few facts.
During the probe in the Jain Hawala case the CBI interrogated the main accused, SK Jain. In his recorded confession to the CBI Jain revealed that Quattrocchi had introduced him to Rajiv Gandhi. Subsequently Rajiv Gandhi helped Jain obtain lucrative contracts for power projects. One of these was for the Uri project in Kashmir. That is why the Hawala money was paid to Kashmir terrorists. The release of a kidnapped foreign engineer working in Uri necessitated the payment. Jain also revealed that it was Quattrocchi who introduced him to the Hawala kingpin, Ameer Bhai. Quattrocchi and Jain jointly decided how to utilize the money. Apart from two crores paid to Lalit Suri for allegedly passing on to Rajiv Gandhi, the rest went to others spread across the opposition including top BJP leaders. On August 10, 1997 CBI told a law court that Quattrocchi had diverted $ 19 million to Jain. This was Jain’s share of the kickback received from their joint operations in one contract.
It transpires from Jain’s confession and the CBI’s statements made in court that Quattrocchi was not only through remote control seeking to influence opposition leaders, but he was also the mastermind having contacts with the Hawala network used for transferring illegal funds abroad. When Quattrocchi was charged in court during the time when Sita Ram Kesari was the Congress President, Advani while attending a wedding reception in Andhra said that Quattrocchi was being “made a scapegoat”. It was an unexpected reaction from a leading opposition stalwart! When Quattrocchi sought permission to leave Malaysia where he was being restrained, a leading Indian newspaper editor traveled to that country to give Quattrocchi a character certificate in court which helped him to leave the country.
Currently there is considerable controversy about Neera Radia. On the basis of a letter alleging that she was a foreign spy her phone was tapped for over two years. No such misfortune befell Quattrocchi. Nobody ventured to suggest that for national security his activities and contacts needed to be monitored.
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Dr. Rajinder Puri
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