Singapore arms firm rejects India bribe allegations

Singapore weapons manufacturer on Tuesday rejected allegations that it used bribes in bidding for an Indian defence contract and vowed to 'vigorously' defend its reputation.

India's ministry of defence on Monday said it was blacklisting six armament firms, including Singapore's ST Kinetics, for their alleged role in a 2009 weapons bribery scandal.

The blacklisted companies would be barred from doing business with the ministry for a "period of 10 years", it said.

"With this latest ruling by the (ministry of defence), we will seek legal advice and we intend to vigorously take appropriate actions to clear our name and defend our reputation," ST Kinetics said in a statement.

Despite reports in the Indian media since 2009 on the blacklisting, ST Kinetics said no formal charges had been made against the company or any of its employees.

"Since 2009, we have offered the authorities full cooperation and assistance as appropriate to clear our name," said ST Kinetics, the land systems and specialty vehicles arm of defence and engineering group ST Engineering.

"We had even offered on several occasions to open our account books for inspection by the Indian authorities but these offers were never taken up by them."

The statement also said the Singapore company had previously filed three petitions with the Delhi High Court "to seek clarification on the alleged blacklisting and to protest against the arbitrary suspension of ST Kinetics' defence business activities".

"In all the court hearings and its affidavits filed, the (ministry of defence) repeatedly stated that ST Kinetics is not blacklisted, and that the 'putting of hold' of ST Kinetics defence business activities is but an interim arrangement only," it added.

ST Kinetics -- which sold $1.75 billion worth of arms in 2010 according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute -- said it had never won any defence contracts in India through India's defence ministry or its affiliated Ordnance Factory Board.

The other blacklisted firms are Switzerland's Rheinmetall Air Defence, Israel Military Industries Ltd, Russia's Corporation Defence and two Indian companies -- RK Machine Tools Ltd and TS Kisan and Co Private Ltd.

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