CBI questions BEML chief in Tatra trucks case (Lead)

April 17th, 2012 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) The CBI Tuesday questioned three people, including former Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. (BEML) director V. Mohan, the company’s present chief V.R.S. Natarajan and Britain-based Vectra group’s chief Ravinder Rishi, in connection with alleged lapses in the supply of heavy-duty Tatra trucks to the Indian Army, sources said.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioned them for information on companies in four countries allegedly related to Rishi.

The agency was probing the alleged role played by at least five companies in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain and Liechtenstein.

Sources said Mohan was questioned for the second consecutive day Tuesday, after interrogation the day before.

Rishi was questioned the eighth time to find out the shareholding pattern of the companies suspected to be owned by him, apart from the contracts signed by them with fimrs Tatra AS (Czech) and Tatra Sipox (Slovakia).

According to a source, Rishi used to procure different parts of Tatra trucks from some companies apparently run by him and then supply them to BEML.

The CBI raided Tatra offices in Bangalore and New Delhi March 30.

Rishi 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 were baseless.

The raids came after the army chief alleged that Lt. Gen. (retd.) Tejinder Singh had offered him a bribe of Rs.14 crore for clearing a consignment of “sub-standard” trucks.

The names of Tatra and BEML were taken by the army in a press release issued by it March 5, alleging that Tejinder Singh had offered a bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra.

Rishi earlier said that he was not related to Tejinder Singh. He also said that the trucks were sold in parts to BEML which assembled the completed trucks and sent them over to the army, and that this had been happening since 1986.

The army chief is likely to meet CBI investigators by the end of this week, sources said.

Gen. Singh earlier gave a complaint after which the CBI registered a case against Rishi, some unnamed officials of the defence ministry, the army and BEML March 30 for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption.

The agency was probing why BEML decided to procure Tatra parts from Tatra Sipox (Britain), a private company, from 1997 when it was doing so through Omnipol (a state-owned unit in Czech Republic) since 1986.

Sources said the probe agency wanted to find out why BEML officials signed the memorandum of understanding with Tatra Sipox (Britain) in a hurried manner June 14, 1997 in Bangalore, three days after they had a meeting with Tatra Sipox (Britain) and its associate companies’ officials in Slovakia.

One more company, Venus Projects Ltd., in which Rishi allegedly has stakes was under the CBI scanner as it was allegedly used by him for purchasing spare parts for Tatra trucks, a CBI source said.

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