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Pankaj Das
Pankaj Das • 2 years ago

The noose is tightening around Ravi Rishi, the NRI businessman who owns the UK-based Vectra group that sold Tatra trucks to the Indian Army, which are at the centre of the controversy surrounding Army chief, Gen VK Singh’s sensational allegation of bribery in the case. On Sunday, the CBI issued restraint orders to prevent Ravi Rishi from leaving the country. It also impounded his passport, and has indicated it will question him again.

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Vectra Chief Ravi Rishi was questioned by the CBI on Monday for the seventh time in connection with an investigation into alleged discrepancies in the procurement of Tatra trucks for the Indian army.

In his complaint to the CBI, Army chief General VK Singh has reportedly accused Vectra Group chief Ravi Rishi of attempting to bribe him and sending retired army official Lt General (retired) Tejinder Singh to offer it to him to clear a contract for acquiring trucks.

Was there a “communal conspiracy” behind the rejection of Army chief Gen VK Singh’s claims in respect of his date of birth, with the intention to promote Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the next Army chief? That’s what a public interest petition filed by former Navy chief L Ramdas and others alleges.

CBI is investigating Venus Projects, a second company belonging to London-based businessman Ravi Rishi of Vectra group, after the NRI was named by Army chief Gen V K Singh as the person behind a Rs 14-crore bribe offer made to him in September, 2010.

Army Chief General VK Singh has today rejected allegations that he is responsible for the leak of a confidential letter written by him to the Prime Minister, warning that India's security is at risk because the army's equipment is obsolete.

The CBI today questioned Lt General (retired) Tejinder Singh for his alleged involvement in offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to Army chief VK Singh in order to approve a defence equipment procurement contract.

The BEML chief said that after receiving requirements from the respective directorates, the Defence Ministry issues orders to the defence PSU for procuring the Tatra trucks.

A former army official has claimed a conversation has been taped between Army Chief VK Singh and an unidentified person, in which the head of the armed forces is asked to take a bribe but refuses to do so.

Public Sector Undertaking BEML had supplied Tatra trucks worth Rs 5,000 crore to the Army by procuring them from Tatra Sipox UK, “emphasising” that it was dealing with a fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech manufacturers and not any agent or trading company. This information was false, the CBI has alleged in its FIR.

One of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s top advisers is at the epicentre of a controversy over irregular allotment of Bangalore plots to his niece and family friend by the public sector defence undertaking BEML, according to media reports.

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is likely to order a fresh probe into the dealings of Tatra Sipox (UK), suppliers of controversial Tatra trucks, with the defence PSU BEML following the disclosure that the firm was a mere "manufacturers' agent".

The Union defence minister is either unaware of the defence audit wing’s warnings against the outdated and overpriced Tatra trucks or he is feigning ignorance. In fact, the audit wing, which comes under the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), found in 2006 that orders for Tatra trucks were placed after considerable manipulation “to keep the production line of BEML alive”.