The CBI today registered a criminal case in connection with the supply of all-terrain Tatra trucks through state-owned BEML to the Army and called for interrogation Vectra group Chairman Ravi Rishi,who is a majority stakeholder in Tatra.
The CBI FIR — filed under Section 420 and provisions in the Prevention of Corruption Act has named Ravi Rishi as one of the accused. Others named include unknown officials of the Defence Ministry and personnel,officials of the BEML and Vectra group.
After registering the case,CBI officials carried out searches at four places in Delhi,Noida and Bangalore
CBI sources said British national Rishi,who is in the national capital for the Defence Expo,has been called for questioning in connection with the alleged irregularities in the deal.
The CBI has been asked to probe the deal from 1997. The agency will also take the custody of files pertaining to the deal and will examine them. Tatra trucks have been supplied since 1986. In its FIR,the CBI had alleged there were ‘gross irregularties’ in awarding the contract. It said there was collusion between the government officials and private companies that caused huge losses to the exchequer.
Sources,however,said they have not filed any FIR in connection with the Army chief’s allegations he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing the Tatra trucks. The matter is still being examined by the CBI.
CBI Director A P Singh had examined a report forwarded by one of the joint directors of the agency who opined that a case could be made out and a thorough investigation was required,the sources said.
The deal came under scanner after Army chief General V K Singh alleged he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe to clear a file related to the purchase of trucks.
The Defence Ministry has sent a reference to the CBI seeking a probe in the allegations. However,the agency is waiting for a complaint from General Singh before initiating a probe into his allegations.
The sources said based on the reference,two separate cases could be registered by the agency — one related to the deal and another for the alleged bribery offer.
Reacting to the alleged involvement of agents and lobbyists in placement of orders for the Tatra trucks,state-owned BEML chief V R S Natarajan has said,”In the last 26 years,from 1986 onwards,BEML assembled manufactured,supplied 7,000 Tatra trucks. All of them have been done on single nomination basis,single inquiry basis. “Nobody in the world makes this type of equipment,because of its superior technological features. When I am the single vendor and there is no competition,there is no influence required,” he said.
The name of Tatra and Bharat Earth Movers Limited was taken by the Army in a press release issued by it on March 5,alleging that retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh had offered a bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Limited to V K Singh.