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Despite Ban, IMI, Rheinmetall Air Defence Go To Defexpo

Mar. 26, 2012 - 12:54PM   |  
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI   |   Comments
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NEW DELHI — Although they have been banned from conducting business with the Indian Defence Ministry for the next 10 years, Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Rhienmetall Air Defence will be among the 567 participants in Defexpo India 2012, to be held here March 29-April 1.

India’s permanent defense production secretary, Shekhar Agarwal, told reporters here March 26 that an advisory has been issued instructing Indian bureaucrats not to interact with the blacklisted companies during the show. Sources said IMI and Rheinmetall Air Defence, based in Zurich, would be permitted to have stalls at Defexpo because they registered before the March 6 announcement that the two companies, along with four others, had been banned from doing business in India.

“It is like inviting a guest and telling him that no one will talk to him,” defense analyst Nitin Mehta said, adding that companies should be blacklisted only after charges against them are proved.

Last week, Rheinmetall Air Defence in a press statement said that so far no charges have been proved against the company. Company officials said they have written a letter to the Indian Defence Ministry protesting the blacklisting.

Singapore Technologies Kinetics, Russia’s Corporation Defence and two Indian companies, T.S. Kishan and R.K. Machine Tools, also were blacklisted for the next 10 years, according to the March 6 Defence Ministry announcement.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recommended blacklisting the companies for alleged kickbacks paid to Sudipto Ghosh, head of India’s Ordnance Factory Board, who in 2009 was arrested on corruption charges.

The biannual Defexpo India, established in 1998, allows overseas and domestic defense companies to showcase their weapons and equipment in hopes of tapping into the Indian defense market, which will be worth an estimated $100 billion over the next five years. Defexpo 2012 will for the first time also showcase internal security systems, along with land and naval systems. India’s internal security market is estimated at about $10 billion.

More than 60 official delegations, including 14 headed by defense ministers, are expected to attend the four-day exhibition, according to an Indian Defence Ministry news release.

“A total of 567 companies from 32 countries will display weapon systems for the Army, Navy and Internal Security,” the release states. “Major participants are from Russia, France and Israel besides Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Republic of [South] Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Poland, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Turkey, U.S. and United Kingdom.”

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