CBI initiates probe into Army Chief bribe chargehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/cbi-initiates-probe-into-army-chief-bribe-charge-2/

CBI initiates probe into Army Chief bribe charge

DEFENCE: Preliminary enquiry names Vectra chief Rishi; Antony says there will be no ‘cover-up’

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) into Army Chief Gen. V K Singh’s allegation that he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe,naming,for the first time,Vectra group chief Ravi Rishi as the man behind the alleged offer.

The agency said it would call in Lt Gen. (retd) Tejinder Singh — allegedly the man who offered the bribe — in the next couple of days. It will evaluate the evidence at hand before proceeding to register an FIR.

The offer of the bribe was made in September 2010,the Army Chief has alleged in his complaint. Gen. Singh is learnt to have alleged that Lt Gen. Tejinder Singh made the offer on behalf of Rishi,as the latter was not keen to meet the Army Chief himself.

“Rishi was reluctant to meet the Army Chief personally because he feared it could land him in trouble,” a top CBI officer said. Gen. Singh’s complaint is now a part of the PE.

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The PE alleges that “a bribe of Rs 14 crore was offered to Gen. V K Singh at his office by a retired senior officer of the Indian Army for clearing a tranche of over 600 trucks of sub-standard quality”. It says that the Army Chief had immediately informed his senior about the incident,taken action against the company and cancelled the contract,and barred access to the retired officer who allegedly made the bribe offer.

Sources said the probe is likely to focus on the alleged nexus between Rishi and Tejinder Singh. The agency is already investigating alleged irregularities in a deal between truck supplier Tatra and defence PSU BEML,but has not yet been able to establish the links between Tejinder and the Vectra group.

Investigators have,however,found that Vectra employed several former defence personnel as consultants — a fact reportedly confirmed by Rishi during questioning. Rishi is learnt to have provided a list of the former defence officers connected with Vectra.

The CBI on Wednesday received voluminous details regarding the Tatra-BEML deal from the defence ministry. The agency had sought relevant files since 1997.

Speaking in Kochi today,Defence Minister A K Antony said there would be “no cover-up and no vendetta” in connection with the Army Chief’s allegation. “Corruption will not be tolerated. Even if there is suspicion,a probe will be ordered,” he said on the sidelines of a function of the Indian Coast Guard.

“India’s interests are our only concern. We are not against any company or country,” Antony said.

“When people do not get contracts,there will be allegations. Some companies do try to influence officials and if it is proved,action will be taken.”