The Swedish national anti-corruption unit has launched a preliminary investigation into allegations of suspected bribery in connection with Scania AB's controversial bus deal with Indian transport minister Nitin Gadkari, says a report from Sputnik News
Prosecutor Johan Lindmark told Sputnik News that the case involves suspicions of foreign bribery. "The public prosecutor's office has been in contact with India, but no formal demands for international legal aid have been made so far," it said.
Earlier this year, SVT's programme 'Mission: Investigate' teamed with the German public service channel ZDF and Indian Confluence Media to publish details about alleged extensive bribery corruption related to Scania's bus and truck business in India.
In November 2016, SVT had reported that Scania delivered an exclusive, specially-designed bus to a company with connections to the family of Mr Gadkari. "The bus was allegedly destined for his daughter's wedding a few weeks later. Scania's former chief executive (CEO) Henrik Henriksson, who was replaced by Christian Levin at the beginning of May this year, confirmed the deal in an SVT interview. According to Scania's internal audit, the bus provided a financial benefit for Mr Gadkari," the news report says.
At the end of 2017, Scania's auditors received tips that Scania had provided India's minister with a specially designed 'luxury bus' as a gift.
According to the report, sources also provided information to the German vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen, which owns Scania, that the bus was a gift to an Indian minister with the aim of "getting an assignment in India,” according to the SVT report.
The internal investigation revealed that there is support for the accusations that Scania provided the minister's family with a bus that at that time had not been fully paid for. And that the deal brought a financial benefit for a 'senior public official', SVT reported.
The affair around the bus, which in Scaniamail is called 'the minister bus' and "Bus given to by a very big man," was sensitive, SVT said in the report.
Several of Scania's top executives were involved in the bus deal. Among other people, Scania's then CEO of Scania India and his successor and several of the managers involved are Swedes, SVT said.
SVT said the minister was very involved in the bus deal. But because it was sensitive to make a deal directly with the minister, the bus was sold via Scania's dealers, who in turn sold or leased the bus to a company with connections to his sons, SVT reported.
A Scania spokesman said the company, part of Volkswagen AG's commercial vehicle arm Traton SE, started its internal investigation in 2017. The results have not previously been disclosed. "This misconduct included alleged bribery, bribery through business partners and misrepresentation," he said, without giving further details.
According to internal investigators, there is still uncertainty about the financing and ownership of the bus, SVT reported.
When SVT and ZDF asked about the bus, Scania had difficulty finding out where it was now and who actually owned it.