The Westinghouse Cables

In March of 2014, Vlad, surfing the net, discovered a number of cables published on the Wikileaks site which put an alternate slant to the story aboutJanek's departure from India. In the story as recollected by Eve , Indira Ghandi, as part of her nationalization efforts and in an attempt to force all foreign firms in India to cede 51% of their equity to India, had Janek arrested on trumped up charges of corruption. He was forbidden to leave India, but subsequently escaped when his brother Julek, smuggled his Australian passport to him. 

The cables however, suggest a different reason for Janek's problems. 

Over 60 cables were exchanged between the US State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi. What follows is a summary of the contents, with links to individual cables. The cables have been given names according to their date, so that cable 730817 was sent on the 17th of August, 1973. 


On the 17
th of August 1973 Jan visited the American Embassy in New Delhi and requested assistance to enable him and Wanda to leave India immediately. Although he and Wanda had valid passports, the Indian authorities would not permit him to leave without tax clearance (cable 730817).

The background to this is detailed in cable 740524 from the embassy to the US State Department on the 24th of May, 1974. Jan is accused of gross tax evasion and the investigation by Indian officials has been ongoing for over a year. After a year or so of inactivity by Westinghouse the company is now prepared to take some action. A senior representative of Westinghouse, Mr David Miller, is planning a visit to New Delhi to discuss the matter with the Embassy (cables 740610, 740611 and 740612).

About a month later, some articles about Jan appear in Blitz [An Indian weekly tabloid specializing in scandals]. The US decides to ignore these. Of interest is the involvement of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (cables 740709740717 and 740719).

The story appears in the Toledo Blade, a newspaper in Ohio.

In August 1974 David Miller and Westinghouse attorney Charles Lyons arrive in New Delhi with the aim of entering into discussions with the Indian authorities (cables 740805, and 740807). The matter is raised in the Indian Parliament (cables 740812 and 740812a). The cables exchanged between the Embassy and the US State Department do not appear to confirm that any formal discussions had taken place (cables 740823 and 740829).

By December 1974 it is becoming evident that the Indian Authorities do not wish to accept Westinghouse's settlement proposal and want Jan's case to go to trial (cable 741210). Westinghouse discontinues negotiations in India and decides to close the Indian office (cable 741213). There is some fear that Jan may decide to leave India illegally. Meanwhile, Jan expresses his views on the proposed closure (cable 741217) and Westinghouse, after considering his view, decides on a last ditch approach to the Indian government (cable 741220).

In January 1975 Westinghouse representatives meet with Trilothi Nath Kaul, the Indian Ambassador to the US, and advise him of their decision to close the office and retire Jan. (cable 750107 and 750114). They also want to discuss further business with India but are advised (cable 750116) that given the circumstances, it is not advisable. The State department also advises that Westinghouse keep its office until the end of February or the Indian authorities would consider the company to be “running away” and could re-arrest Jan (cable 750122). Jan duly retires as at the end of January, 1975 (cable 750128).

 Westinghouse  International 








Who is Who

Government of India
A major US company with an office in New Delhi,having substantial contracts with the Indian government for the construction and operation of power plants in India.Jan Drobot’s title was Vice President for India, Burma,Nepal, and Ceylon. He headed the New Delhi office of the company.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) was appointed by Nixon as US Ambassador to India in 1973 to 1975. He began his government career in the Kennedy administration; after his India posting he served as US Ambassador to the United Nations, and subsequently, served four terms as a Democratic Senator from New York State.
Henry Alfred Kissinger (1923-) served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, and continued as Secretary of State under Nixon's successor Gerald Ford.
Paul H. Kreisberg served in India as a Foreign Service officer in the 1970s.
Joseph J Sisco (1919-2003) Kissinger's chief deputy, Under-Secretary of State for political affairs.
Triloki Nath Kaul (1913-2000) Indian Ambassador to the US (1973-1976).
William Schneider Jr would become Under-Secretary of State in the Reagan Administation.
Robert Ingersoll, a deputy in the Secretary of State Office (under Kissinger).
Westinghouse’s Indian Lawyer.
Virendra Verma, Westinghouse's accountant.
William Saxbe (1918-2010), replaced Moynihan as Ambassador to India in 1975. Previously, he had been Attorney General of the United States under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

In February 1975 Jan appears at the US Consulate in Frankfurt, having fled India and is issued another passport. The US state department denies any knowledge of how he escaped (cable 750207) [for details, see Eve’s account - Escape from India]. Westinghouse is now concerned about the possible implications on its business interests in India (cables (750208 and 750211). Meanwhile the Indian Government will be seeking Jan’s extradition from Germany.Jan then travels to the US and stays with his adopted son, Adam, in Austin, Texas and formally retires (cable 750212). The Americans fear that the Indian Government will seize all Westinghouse assets in India and will apply for Jan's extradition (cable 750213).

The Indians are extremely angry that Jan has slipped out. They know that for his last few months in India he stayed with Dr Carleton, who is with the US Agricultural Department research office in Delhi. Jan had previously secured Wanda’s departure and had closed up their home in Maharani Bagh, which was officially rented by Westinghouse. Dr. Carleton denies any knowledge of Jan's difficulties. (cable 750214). The Indian Government is looking around for someone to blame and Westinghouse is advised to exercise extreme caution when attempting to do any further business in India. (cables 750214a, 750215, 750218 and 750218a).

In March 1975 the story finally appears in the mainstream Indian press (cable 750310) and the US State Department issues guidelines for answers to be given if asked about the affair (cable 750311). The department is to deny any connections that Jan may have had with the US government [including any reference to his previous dealings with the CIA when he defected from the Polish embassy in 1960]. The story is also carried in Blitz (cable 750313) and raised in the Indian Parliament (cable 750313a).

Westinghouse is now anxious to send Charles Lyons, a Westinghouse consultant to India to gain “first-hand experience” (cable 750313b). The US remains concerned about the possibility of his being harassed or prevented from departing India but reluctantly agree to the visit (cable 750314 and 750314a.   Westinghouse’s Indian  lawyer, Dadachangi, who originally recommended the visit, has now changed his mind and recommends against the visit, for fear of reprisals by “enforcement officers who are embarrassed and mad about Drobot escape” (cable 750315).  As a result the visit is postponed (cable 750315a).

Blitz magazine carries a story alleging that the American Embassy played a significant role in Jan's escape (cable 750318).

Meanwhile Westinghouse is still anxious to discuss further commercial arrangements with India and settle the Drobot matter and seeks assurances from the Indian Government that their representative will not be detained In India. (cable 750325).  The Indian Government assures Westinghouse that it is only interested in “getting the taxes paid” and that their representative would be free to leave whenever he desires. (cable 750326).

By April 1975 it appears that the Indian Government is anxious to settle the matter in order that the Minister for Finance can state in the Parliament that the case has been settled, and that  the outstanding taxes plus [any] penalties have been paid, despite Jan's escape. Westinghouse is delighted at this outcome and their only reservations are with regard to the amount of penalties that may apply. (cable 750407). Perhaps this is driven by their desire to present a favourable assessment of their relationships with other countries (cable 750409), in particular to be able to report “a trend towards a mature relationship between India and the United States” in advance of the upcoming visit by President Gerald Ford.

The last available cable suggests that the matter is about to be finally settled (cable 750410).


 There are also a number of cables which have not been released (e.g cable 740705nr), or their content has not been made available electronically (e.g. cable 740628na). Whether any of these can shed further light on this story remains to be seen. It's possible that Jan's previous alleged involvement with CIA in 1960 or that the  CIA played a part in the Westinghouse affair preclude these being released for another hundred years or so.

 We may never know.