Vectra chairman Ravi Rishi was on Monday questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with alleged irregularities in the supply Tatra all-terrain trucks as it prepares to quiz the BEML chairman V.R.S. Natarajan on Tuesday.
Mr. Rishi, named as an accused in CBI’s FIR in alleged irregularities in purchase of the Tatra trucks, has now been quizzed seven times at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi. Mr. Rishi has a substantial stake in Tatra Sipox U.K.
Mr. Natarajan has been asked to appear before the agency on Tuesday.
The CBI has registered a case naming Mr. Rishi and unnamed officials of the Defence Ministry, the Army and the BEML on March 30, 2012 for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI is probing alleged irregularities in assigning of supply from Czech Republic-based Tatra, with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986, to the Tatra-Sipox U.K. owned by Mr. Rishi in 1997 showing it as original equipment manufacturer and the fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company, they said.
A CBI spokesperson had said this was against the provisions of Defence Procurement Procedure for supplying the vehicles to Indian Army on the basis of the orders placed by the Ministry of Defence.
“It is further alleged that in this manner, vehicles worth thousands of crores of rupees have been supplied to the Indian Army. In continuation of the aforesaid conspiracy to cause undue benefit to the U.K.-based company, the unknown officials of the Defence PSU allowed change of currency from U.S. Dollar to Euro and further by not levying the Liquidated damages, thereby causing further loss of Rs. 13.27 crores,” the CBI spokesperon had said.
Mr. Rishi had termed the allegations against him as unfortunate, saying the trucks were sold through public sector undertaking BEML.
He also said the charges levelled with regard to Tatra trucks by Army Chief Gen V.K. Singh that they were “sub-standard” and that he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 crore to clear the deal of 600 such trucks were baseless.
Mr. Natarajan has also refuted the alleged involvement of agents and lobbyists in placement of orders for the Tatra all-terrain trucks.
“In 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“.
“This type of equipment no body in world makes, because of its superior technological features. When I am the single vendor and there is no competition, there is no influence required,” he had said.
The BEML chief had said that “there is no need for BEML to influence. Not a single Tatra representative has ever marketed the product (trucks).”