Abhishek Verma (born 23 February 1968 in New Delhi, India) is an arms dealer and was the main suspect in the Scorpene submarines deal, AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters bribery scandal and Navy War Room Leak Case.
Allegations of Corruption and Imprisonment
In 2006, Verma was accused by the opposition political party BJP of receiving kickbacks amounting to around US$200 million, through a US$4.5 billion Indian Military deal, as a consequence of the Indian government purchasing six Scorpène-class submarines from Thales. The BJP raised this in Parliament, pointing out his proximity to the Congress party, and alleged he had gained the agency to negotiate the contract with Thales as a result of bribing certain Congress Party politicians.
Verma and Thales immediately denied all the allegations, and launched a lawsuit against The Outlook Magazine, which had been the first to break the story in February 2006. He also sued the former BJP Deputy Prime Minister of India, L. K. Advani, for criminal defamation; Advani had campaigned against Abhishek, demanding the Government charge the latter with corruption.
In 2009 the Delhi High Court exonerated Verma when the Central Bureau of Investigation published their report into the allegations: they stated that the monies received by him was not a result of the submarine sale. On 7 June 2012, CBI raided Verma’s 10 premises and establishments in India after registration of cases of corruption and money laundering.
In 2013, Verma was named a suspect in the 2013 Indian helicopter bribery scandal by the Indian Government for massive bribes exceeding Euros 50 million that were paid to Indian politicians including Sonia Gandhi as alleged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. Verma is suspected to have been the middleman in the chopper deal and the nexus was exposed by TimesNow TV with their global investigation.
Due to various other arms deal-related cases that Verma and his wife are alleged to have been involved in, the government attempted to freeze their secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein, which are said to hold over US$500 million; however the Liechtenstein authorities rejected the Indian government’s request to open the accounts in 2015.
When Enforcement Directorate raids were carried out at Verma’s residences, among the goods seized were 36 paintings, valued at over US$5 million and high end designer watches worth US$1 million.
In June 2012, Verma was arrested and charged with corruption and money laundering; the trial commenced in December 2015. In April 2017, a special court of CBI presided by Judge Anju Bajaj Chandana exonerated Verma and his wife Anca in the two cases of corruption and money laundering.