Vectra deal advisory withdrawn mysteriously

The helicopter company belongs to arms dealer Ravi Rishi, who has been named an accused in the Tatra Truck deal.

New Delhi: The helicopter company belonging to arms dealer Ravi Rishi, who has been named an accused in the Tatra Truck deal, had come under the scanner of Indian intelligence agencies two years ago which recommended against giving any government business to it, but the warning was mysteriously withdrawn.

The nation`s external intelligence agency RAW had in January 2010 advised oil PSU Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) against giving any business to the Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd but exactly a month later withdrew the advisory saying it was sent by mistake.

RAW in its January 25, 2010 letter to ONGC Chairman alleged that there were "intelligence reports about this (Vectra) Group`s involvement with criminal syndicates, money laundering", but withdrew the advisory exactly a month later, following which the PSU hired the company`s helicopters for its offshore operations.

When contacted R S Sharma, who was the Chairman and Managing Director of ONGC when the advisory was sent, acknowledged receiving a communication but said it was withdrawn.

"Yes we did receive a communication from RAW. The first task was to verify its authenticity. We got it confirmed that RAW had indeed sent such an advisory. However, we soon learnt that communication was sent by mistake and they wrote to us withdrawing the same," he said.

ONGC, which had been hiring helicopters from Global Vectra for ferrying its employees to oil and gas installations off both east and west coast, awarded a contract for 8 helicopters.

"Their service was satisfactory and we did not feel there was a need for an alarm since the advisory had been withdrawn," he said.

The Home Ministry earlier this month withdrew security clearance granted to Global Vectra, whose promoter Ravi Rishi is being investigated by the CBI for his alleged role in the recent Tatra deal controversy. Following this, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended its flying permit, grounding its fleet.