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INDIA TODAY

    CURRENT ISSUE JULY 03, 2006

 

    ANNIVERSARY ISSUE: 30 BIGGEST SCAMS

 
Scandal Sheet

Greed, politics, bribery, dirty money. Just another day in the life of a nation still rated among the most corrupt in the world. Scan the scams that have grabbed headlines, destroyed reputations and left many people poorer.

Jeep Purchase (1948)

Free India's corruption graph begins. V. K. Krishna Menon, then the Indian high commissioner to Britain, bypassed protocol to sign a deal worth Rs 80 lakh with a foreign firm for the purchase of army jeeps. The case was closed in 1955 and soon after Menon joined the Nehru cabinet.

Cycle Imports (1951)

S.A. Venkataraman, then the secretary, ministry of commerce and industry, was jailed for accepting a bribe in lieu of granting a cycle import quota to a company.

BHU Funds (1956)

In one of the first instances of corruption in educational institutions, Benaras Hindu University officials were accused of misappropriation of funds worth Rs 50 lakh.

Mundhra Mess (1958)

The Life Insurance Corporation of India, under the Centre's pressure, bought shares worth Rs 1.2 crore in firms owned by Haridas Mundhra to bail him out of a crunch. The case compelled T.T. Krishnamachari to resign as finance minister.

Teja Loans (1960)

Shipping magnate Jayant Dharma Teja took loans worth Rs 22 crore to establish the Jayanti Shipping Company. In 1960, the authorities discovered that he was actually siphoning off money to his own account, after which Teja fled the country.

Kairon Scam (1963)

Pratap Singh Kairon became the first Indian chief minister to be accused of abusing his power for his own benefit and that of his sons and relatives. He quit a year later.

Patnaik's Own Goal (1965)

Orissa Chief Minister Biju Patnaik was forced to resign after it was discovered that he had favoured his privately-held company Kalinga Tubes in awarding a government contract.

Maruti Scandal (1974)

Well before the company was set up, former prime minister Indira Gandhi's name came up in the first Maruti scandal, where her son Sanjay Gandhi was favoured with a licence to make passenger cars.

Solanki Exposé (1992)

At the World Economic Forum, Madhavsinh Solanki, then the external affairs minister, slipped a letter to his Swiss counterpart asking their government to stop the probe into the Bofors kickbacks. Solanki resigned when India Today broke the story.

Kuo Oil Deal (1976)

The Indian Oil Corporation signed a Rs 2.2-crore oil contract with a non-existent firm in Hong Kong and a kickback was given. The petroleum and chemicals minister was directed to make the purchase.

Antulay Trust (1981)

With the exposure of this scandal concerning A.R. Antulay, then the chief minister of Maharashtra, The Indian Express was reborn. Antulay had garnered Rs 30 crore from businesses dependent on state resources like cement and kept the money in a private trust.

HDW Commissions (1987)

HDW, the German submarine maker, was blacklisted after allegations that commissions worth Rs 20 crore had been paid. In 2005, the case was finally closed, in HDW's favour.

Bofors Pay-Off (1987)

A Swedish firm was accused of paying Rs 64 crore to Indian bigwigs, including Rajiv Gandhi, then the prime minister, to secure the purchase of the Bofors gun.

St Kitts Forgery (1989)

An attempt was made to sully V.P. Singh's Mr Clean image by forging documents to allege that he was a beneficiary of his son Ajeya Singh's account in the First Trust Corp. at St Kitts, with a deposit of $21 million.

Airbus Scandal (1990)

Indian Airlines's (ia) signing of the Rs 2,000-crore deal with Airbus instead of Boeing caused a furore following the crash of an A-320. New planes were grounded, causing IA a weekly loss of Rs 2.5 crore.

Securities Scam (1992)

Harshad Mehta manipulated banks to siphon off money and invested the funds in the stockmarket, leading to a crash. The loss: Rs 5,000 crore.

Sugar Import (1994)

As food minister, Kalpnath Rai presided over the import of sugar at a price higher than that of the market, causing a loss of Rs 650 crore to the exchequer. He resigned following the allegations.

Indian Bank Rip-off (1992)

Aided by M. Gopalakrishnan, then the chairman of the Indian Bank, borrowers-mostly small corporates and exporters from the south-were lent a total of over Rs 1,300 crore, which they never paid back.

JMM Bribes (1995)

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Shailendra Mahato testified that he and three party members received bribes of Rs 30 lakh to bail out the P.V. Narasimha Rao government in the 1993 no-confidence motion.

In a Pickle (1996)

Pickle baron Lakhubhai Pathak raised a stink when he accused former prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and godman Chandraswami of accepting a bribe of Rs 10 lakh from him for securing a paper pulp contract.

Telecom Scam (1996)

Former minister of state for communication Sukh Ram was accused of causing a loss of Rs 1.6 crore to the exchequer by favouring a Hyderabad- based private firm in the purchase of telecom equipment. He, along with two others, was convicted in 2002.

Fodder Scam (1996)

The accountant general's concerns about the withdrawal of excess funds by Bihar's animal husbandry department unveiled a Rs 950-crore scam involving Lalu Prasad Yadav, then the state chief minister. He resigned a year later.

Urea Deal (1996)

C.S. Ramakrishnan, MD, National Fertiliser, and a group of businessmen close to the P.V. Narasimha Rao regime fleeced the government and took Rs 133 crore from the import of two lakh tonne of urea, which was never delivered.

Hawala Diaries (1996)

The scandal surfaced following CBI raids on hawala operators in Delhi in 1991. But it was S.K. Jain's diaries that had heads rolling.

Match Fixing (2000)

Mohammed Azharuddin, till then India's cricket captain, was accused of match-fixing. He and Ajay Sharma were banned from playing, while Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar were suspended for five years.

Tehelka Sting (2001)

Tehelka, an online news portal, used spycams to catch army officers and politicians accepting bribes, in their sting operation called Operation Westend. Investigative journalism turned another corner in the country.

Stockmarket Scam (2001)

The mayhem that wiped off over Rs 1,15,000 crore in the markets in March 2001 was masterminded by the Pentafour bull Ketan Parekh. He was arrested in December 2002 and banned from acccessing the capital market for 14 years.

Home Trade Scam (2002)

Under the pretext of gilt trading, Rs 600 crore was swindled from over 25 cooperative banks in Maharashtra and Gujarat by a Navi Mumbai-based brokerage firm Home Trade. Sanjay Agarwal, CEO of the firm, was arrested in May 2002.

Stamp Paper Scam (2003)

The sheer magnitude of the racket was shocking-it caused a loss of Rs 30,000 crore to the exchequer. Disclosures of the mastermind behind it, Abdul Karim Telgi, implicated top police officers and bureaucrats.

Oil-for-Food Scandal (2005)

K. Natwar Singh was unceremoniously dropped from the Cabinet when his name surfaced in the Volcker Report on the Iraq oil-for-food scam.

 

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