Six months after a preliminary enquiry (PE) into former Army chief V K Singhs allegation that he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe,CBI Saturday seized over Rs 98 lakh from the bedroom of pharma tycoon Gautam Thadani,believed to have close business links with Vectra chief Ravi Rishi.
Thadani is MD of Global Healthline Pvt Ltd,which has a chain of retail pharmacies in Delhi and NCR.
Gen (retd) V K Singh alleged in March this year that the then retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh met him on September 22,2010,and offered him Rs 14 crore at the behest of Ravi Rishi to clear 1,676 substandard Tatra trucks for the Army. In April,Defence Minister A K Antony asked CBI to probe the matter.
CBI Saturday registered FIRs under Sec 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act against both Tejinder Singh and Rishi.
It found property papers in the name of Tejinder Singh in the house of the retired Lt Gen. It searched the home of Rishi in Delhis Kailash Colony,and that of Thadanis brother-in-law Rajan Madhu,the director of F Bar and Lounge at The Ashok hotel in the capital.
Raids were also carried out at the homes of Rishis employees Anil Mansaramani in Noida,and Vikram Kakia in Mumbai. The agency will summon the suspects for questioning soon.
Over the past six months,CBI has corroborated V K Singhs statement,and collected evidence to establish its veracity. The movement of procurement file of Tatra trucks,objections raised by then Army Chief,and retired Lt Gen Tejinders approach to Army chief point to a nexus between Rishi and Tejinder,a CBI officer said.
CBI is learnt to have established that Tejinder met V K Singh on September 22,2010. An entry made by the then Army chief in his diary on Tejinders bribe offer has emerged as the clinching evidence,sources said. Gen (retd) Singh is understood to have shown this diary to CBI investigators who visited him in the defence ministry.
The FIR was registered after CBI gathered sufficient evidence to back the allegations made by the former Army chief. Following a difference of opinion among its senior officers,the probe team sought the opinion of Director of Prosecution (DoP) Abdul Aziz,who is understood to have been in favour of filing an FIR. CBI director A P Singh then signed off on the file.
Sources in the agency confirmed to The Indian Express that while the alleged nexus between Tejinder and Rishi would be the subject matter of investigations,the fact that Defence Minister Antony named the retired lieutenant general in Parliament and complained to the CBI was important.
We have not done anything in a hurry. We took over six months to make an assessment of the officers (Tejinder)reputation and links with various arms dealers and middlemen, a CBI officer said.