New Delhi: The CBI on Friday began searches at four places in Delhi and Bangalore in connection with the alleged irregularities in Tatra trucks deal. Reports said the raids are still on.
The development came hours after the agency registered a case in connection with the alleged irregularities and also called for questioning Vectra Group chairman Ravi Rishi, who is a majority stakeholder in Tatra.
British national Rishi, who is in the national capital for the Defence Expo, was last reported to be at the CBI headquarters for questioning in the case.
Rishi had earlier agreed to cooperate with the Central probe agency, which is probing the Army Chief’s claims that he was offered Rs 14 crore bribe to clear the purchase of 600 Tatra trucks.
According to reports, the FIR has been registered against the Vectra Group, which has a majority stake in the firm Tatra-Vectra and manufactures and supplies trucks to the Indian Army, and BEML - a defence PSU.
The FIR mentions several charges, including cheating and criminal conspiracy.
CBI Director AP Singh had examined a report forwarded by
one of the joint directors of the agency who had opined that a
case could be made out and a thorough investigation was
required, the sources said.
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 Gen 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 to the alleged bribery offer.
Rishi had earlier criticised the Army Chief for delaying the deal for trucks over alleged procurement related doubts.
Speaking to reporters, Rishi had maintained that there was nothing improper or illegal about previous Tatra truck-related procurements.
The businessman also went a step ahead to suggest that General Singh was more inclined towards giving the truck deal to another competitor called Ural.
The Tatra trucks have been used as missile carriers in the Indian Army for years.
Terming charges against the Vectra Group as baseless and unfounded, Rishi stated that large orders from the Indian Army come only after one year or one and a half years.
He had opined that the Army Chief may have blocked the Tatra deal for his own personal interests.
General Singh has questioned the procurement process and maintenance facilities related to Tatra trucks.
Reacting to 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 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 nobody 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 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.
(With PTI inputs)