India Embraer defence deal
The Brazilian aircraft maker signed the deal with India to supply three Embraer-145 planes in 2008 Nacho Doce/Reuters file photo

A top Indian law enforcement agency has filed charges against a UK-based arms dealer for alleged unlawful activities in facilitating a multi-million dollar defence deal between the Indian government and Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer. Vipin Khanna, who is currently in New Delhi, is accused of having received $6m (£4.9m) in kickbacks from the Brazilian company to smoothen the agreement.

The 87-year-old Khanna, a non-resident Indian who works as a defence consultant, has been named as the key accused by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Indian government signed the $210m deal with the Brazilian company, the world's third largest aircraft manufacturer, to procure three planes in 2008.

In 2009, the middleman is accused of receiving the$6m payment, routed via Austria and Switzerland, through a Singapore-based subsidiary, Interdev Pte Ltd, owned by him. The Singaporean firm is listed as a software consultancy set up in 2000.

The CBI began probing Khanna following orders from the federal administration led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Brazilian press published reports about the alleged payoffs in the deal. The deal was signed when the current main opposition party, Indian National Congress, was in power in New Delhi and the Brazilian manufacturer was the only one applying for the deal after a cabinet committee cleared the purchase of aircraft with airborne early warning and control system in 2004.

As per the agreement, the first Embraer-145 aircraft was delivered in 2013 while two others were dispatched in 2013. Local reports suggest the deal is unlikely to be fully overturned and any punishment would only involve fines. The initial alarm over the suspected kickbacks was sent out by the US Department of Justice and the US Security and Exchange Commission when they found Embraer had allegedly paid commissions to middlemen to sweeten deals with several countries including India.