The Singapore-based arms firm, ST (Singapore Technologies) Kinetics, which was earlier reported to have been blacklisted, has questioned such a description of itself and has offered its books up for scrutiny by Indian agencies.
The Indian Ministry of Defense had blacklisted ST Kinetics besides six other companies in June last year for alleged involvement in the deals tainted by corruption discovered with the arrest of the former Director General of Ordinance Factories, Sudipta Ghosh.
ST Kinetics was cleared to proceed for trials of its products last December, subject to the report submitted by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), which is investigating the allegations of corruption.
Brigadier General Patrick Choy, Executive Vice President at Singapore Technologies Engineering stressed his company hasn’t been blacklisted and that the CBI has written a letter to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, a few months ago, clarifying that the company had not been blacklisted. “We haven’t committed any misdemeanors,” said Choy.
According to him, ST Kinetics decided to pitch its products to India with local partners to establish a base here and cater to any offset requirements that may come up. They offered their assault rifle to the OFB (Ordinance Factories Board), which was tested and approved by both the OFB as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs. The company then applied to the Ministry of Defense for a collaboration with the OFB on May 15 last year, but two days later, an FIR (First Information Report) was lodged against the OFB Director General Sudipta Ghosh by the CBI alleging corruption, which put a stop to the process and all operations with the company were put on hold the following month.
General Choy said the company had written to the Indian government, offering full cooperation with the CBI. “We met the CBI in October and some senior officials of the CBI in Singapore in November-end. We have answered all the questions the CBI asked. But until today the company is not clear as to exactly what the issues are. We have not been told specifically about any allegations,” he said.
“We have made an offer to the CBI to open our books. The CBI can send a team to audit our books. We have very strict corporate governance rules, with limits to the usage of cash and due diligence,” stressed Choy.
The Indian Army is to conduct trials of the iFH 2000 Towed Howitzer next month. ST Kinetics is also offering India its 155 mm 39 Caliber Pegasus Light Weight Howitzer, its SAR 21 assault rifle, as well as its Spider Light Strike Vehicle. However, the Indian Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Deepak Kapoor indicated on Thursday that the government was also looking looking at the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route to acquire light guns, in case the it was unable for any reason to procure them through an open tender process. The Telegraph had reported earlier this month that India would be looking to purchase light guns through FMS from the US.