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'Quattrocchi had free access to Gandhis'

'Quattrocchi had free access to Gandhis'

Author: Harinder Baweja
Publication: India Today
Date: January 5, 2011
URL: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/125661/top-stories/‘quattrocchi-had-free-access-to-gandhis’.html

Soon after Headlines Today broke the story on the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal order nailing Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, Law Minister Veerappa Moily claimed that the Bofors scam accused did not have deep or personal ties with the Gandhi family.

However, Headlines Today has in its exclusive possession the testimony of SPG officer Naresh Chandra Gosain made before the CBI in the Bofors case, which lays out in great detail the relationship between the Gandhis and Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Headlines Today has also accessed the testimony of Ottavio Quattrocchi's personal driver Sasi Dharan. In his deposition, Sasi Dharan talks about multiple meetings between Quattrocchi and the Gandhis.

These meetings continued right up to May 1993, till just before Ottavio Quattrocchi fled India for good. These testimonies are being brought out into the public domain for the first time.

The depositions of the SPG officer, who was in the escort detail of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and was the Personal Security Officer of Sonia Gandhi, and Quattrocchi's personal driver, have been revealed for the first time.


Headlines Today is in possession of the written statement of then Intelligence Bureau officer Naresh Chandra Gosain made before CBI Inspector Ghan Shyam Rai on March 29 1997. Between 1984 and 1987, Gosain was posted in the Special Protection Group of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was part of the escort team. Between 1987 and 1989, Gosain served as the Personal Security Officer or the PSO of Sonia Gandhi.

During Deve Gowda's prime ministership in 1997, Gosain deposed before the CBI. This deposition has so far never been made public.

Headlines Today dug out this deposition, in which Gosain talks at length about the close family ties between the Gandhis and the Quattrocchis.

In his testimony Gosain says, "Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi and his wife Ms Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Mr Rajiv Gandhi and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. When Shri Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, Mr Quattrocchi and his family members used to visit PM house and the family members of Shri Rajiv Gandhi also used to visit the house of Mr Quattrocchi."

"In the initial period of Prime Ministership of Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the children of Shri Rajiv Gandhi used to stay at Mr Quattrocchi's house during the foreign visits/domestic visits of the Prime Minister. We used to perform our shift duties at the residence of Mr Quattrocchi on such occasions. Sometimes, Mrs Sonia Gandhi has also stayed in the house of Mr Quattrocchi and at that time we used to perform our duties there."

Gosain goes on to add that Ottavio Quattrocchi and his wife Maria enjoyed free access to the Prime Minister's house. 'At No. 5 & 7 Race Course Road, private cars were not allowed to enter inside the bungalow. Only the ferry cars of SPG, after severe security checks, used to carry such visitors from reception to porch and back. Mr Quattrocchi and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Shri Rajiv Gandhi's family and they got free access to the PM's House.'

"All visitors to No 5 & 7 Race Course Road were issued passes at the reception near the alighting point. Every time, a card was kept ready for Mr. Quattrocchi and his family members as and when they visited the PM's house. Everybody in SPG posted at PM house knew Mr Quattrocchi and his family members. Hence, there was no question of identifying them."


Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi's proximity to the Gandhis is well known. What is not known, however, is whether this proximity continued even after Quattrocchi began to be linked to the Bofors scandal.

The testimony of Sasi Dharan is crucial in unravelling this mystery. Sasi Dharan worked as a driver in Snam Progetti. Snam Progetti was an Italian public sector giant that was represented in India by Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Sasi was Quattrocchi's personal driver. He drove Mercedes No. DIA 6253. In his testimony before the CBI, Sasi details the frequent meetings between the Gandhis with the Quattrocchis.

In his testimony Sasi says: "Shri Quattrocchi and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi were very close to Shri Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and his family. I do not know what type of relation they had but Quattrocchi and his wife Maria used to frequently visit the house of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. I knew it since 1985 when I joined service. At that time they used to visit the house of Rajiv Gandhi twice or thrice in a day. Whenever Sonia Gandhi's mother or father visited India, I used to drive them to the house of Quattrocchi. They used to remain there for the whole day and Mrs Maria Quattrocchi would take them for shopping. They used to come to India four or five times in the year."

What is most damaging is the car log maintained by driver Sasi Dharan. In this log, Sasi details the exact dates when Ottavio Quattrocchi came to meet Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi at 5 and 7 Race Course Road or 10 Janpath. These logs are for the period 1989 to 1993. In this log book, Sasi Dharan has mentioned 41 occasions when Quattrocchi came to meet the Gandhis.

It is important to note that the meetings between Ottavio Quattrochi and Sonia Gandhi continued even after the death of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

According to Sasi Dharan, Quattrocchi came to 10 Janpath 21 times after May 1991.

It is important to recollect that by January 25, 1990, a team of CBI officials was already in Switzerland with a list of suspected recipients of the Bofors payback. According to a Frontline magazine story of the time, Ottavio Quattrocchi was the first name on that list. Between 1988 and 1990, the media too carried many stories about the involvement of Ottavio Quattrocchi as a middleman in the Bofors deal.

What these documents show is that despite the cloud of suspicion surrounding Quattrocchi's involvment in the Bofors paybacks, he continued to have unfettered access to 10 Janpath.

Describing his former boss, Sasi says: "Mr. Quattrocchi used to be a secretive man. He never used to speak much to others about himself. Whenever some news report came up in the paper about the case, Quattrochhi used to be very upset. He would not be his normal self. His mood would be bad"

Sasi concludes by saying: "Shri Quattrocchi left India on the night of July 29, 1993 and on this day also I had driven him to the airport. At that time he did not have any luggage except one briefcase and he told me he was going for an urgent meeting. Usually, whenever Mr Quattrocchi wanted the car, he would tell me in advance, but the day he left, he did not tell me (in advance)"

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