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Suspects in Arms Scandal Post Bail

May 14, 2001

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Two brothers from the billionaire Hinduja family, charged in a 1986 arms sale kickback scandal, have been granted permission to travel outside of India after posting $3.2 million in bail.

According to the Press Trust of India, Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja posted bail and are allowed to stay outside India until Aug. 20.

The brothers are charged with receiving $8.3 million in illegal commissions from the Swedish arms maker AB Bofors to facilitate the sale of howitzers to the Indian army in 1986.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court ruled that two of the Hinduja brothers would be allowed to leave India but asked the third, Prakash Hinduja, to stay in India as a guarantor for Srichand and Gopichand’s return.

In Supreme Court, the Hindujas challenged a lower court order that barred them from leaving the country during a federal probe into the bribery allegations.

The brothers have denied that the money paid into their Swiss bank accounts by now-defunct Bofors was a kickback for brokering the gun deal. But they refuse to say what the money was for.

Commissions in defense deals are outlawed in India. If convicted, the Hindujas each face up to seven years in prison.

The Hindujas came to India in January to be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Indian equivalent of the FBI, which is preparing its case for presentation to the court.

The Hinduja brothers had argued that a Delhi High Court order denying them permission to leave the country lacked ``compassion and sensitiveness″ to their needs.

They said their business in Britain, the United States and other countries was suffering since they were unable to leave India. The Hinduja Group has interests in banking, oil, cable television and Internet services.

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