New Delhi: A day after the CBI registered a case in connection with alleged irregularities in the supply of all-terrain Tatra freight vehicles through the state-owned BEML to the Indian Army, it has emerged that Vectra Group chairman Ravinder Rishi – a majority stakeholder in Tatra – is under probe in the Czech Republic too in the Tatra matter.
The CBI had yesterday questioned Rishi – a British national of Indian origin – after booking him and unnamed officials of Defence Ministry, BEML and Army for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Rishi has so far refuted allegations of irregularities in the Tatra truks deal. But documents in possession of DNA newspaper show that a criminal complaint was filed against Rishi in the Czech Republic last year in the Tatra matter.
As per the complaint, Rishi misused his position in the board of Tatra Czech [the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of Tatra trucks] to enable Tatra Sipox (UK) Ltd, a company Rishi’s Vectra Group incorporated in 1994 and now owns, to buy knock down trucks from Tatra Czech at below production cost. Tatra Sipox then sold the trucks to India’s BEML at a profit, causing huge losses to Tatra Czech since profits from the sale were being made by Rishi’s company, the newspaper reports citing the complaint.
“I hold for important the fact that TATRA Czech was selling Tatra truck to the British company [Tatra Sipox] margin-free, even at prices below the production costs. The entire margin, or all the profit from the transaction, has been earned by Vectra Limited in the UK,” states the complaint.
The complaint against Rishi was filed by Vaclav Laska, ex-chief at corruption watchdog Transparency International, following disclosures by a top Tatra Czech official. The investigations into the matter are being carried out by the Czech Republic’s Department for Detection of Corruption and Financial Offences.
The recent revelations hold significance in the wake of claims by Army Chief General VK Singh that he was offered a Rs14 crore bribe to clear a tranche of 600 sub-standard Tatra trucks.