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Navy probing pay-off by US firm, says Antony

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony with Navy Chief Nirmal Verma, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik during the Commanders' Conference at South Block in New Delhi on Tuesday. Image Credit: PTI

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Navy has ordered a probe into bribery allegations against its officers made in a letter from Meera Shankar, the Indian Ambassador to US, to the Prime Minister's Office, Defence Minister A K Antony said Thursday.

"I can assure you the government will take it (the allegations) seriously. On the Navy's part, they have already taken it seriously and have started investigation. We will not ignore it," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the four-day Navy Commanders Conference that began here.

Refusing to comment more on Shankar's letter, the Defence Minister said since it was addressed to someone else, he had not seen or read it so far.

He, however, added that the allegations were not only against the Navy officers, but also against seven other Indian agencies.

Shankar's May 12 letter to Prime Minister's Principal Secretary T K A Nair had alleged that an agent of US firm York International Corporation had paid off Rs 61 lakh as bribe to Navy officers between 2000 and 2006 for placing over 200 orders with the global heating and air conditioning firm.

The letter also talks about seven other Indian agencies such as Maharashtra Electricity Board, Indian Railway and Central Insecticides Board officials too having received kickbacks from other US firms.

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