The CBI’s probe into alleged irregularities in the purchase of over 6,000 all-terrain Tatra trucks for the Indian army after 1997 has revealed violations of a contract signed between defence PSU Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) and a UK-based firm.
In a 1997 agreement signed between Tatra Sipox UK and the defence PSU, an “article” had mandated increasing indigenisation of the Tatra trucks but it was allegedly overlooked as part of a conspiracy between unidentified officials of the two firms, said a CBI source.
“The article 11 of the 1997 agreement had laid down that BEML should not use any trademark or trade name of Tatra. But this part of the agreement was not implemented by BEML,” said the source. CBI recovered the documents pertaining to the agreement between the two firms during recent searches of the BEML offices, the source added.
CBI has grilled London-based businessman Ravi Rishi, chief of the UK-based Vectra Group that had “bought the majority stakes in Tatra Sipox,” said the source. The agency will be questioning BEML officials as part of its probe too. Both Vectra Group and BEML were named in the CBI’s First Information Report in the case.
The probe has now also found alleged irregularities in the supply of around 2,500 tool-kits to the army by the UK-based firm.
“The agreement signed with a foreign trade corporation of Czechoslovakia for the supply of the vehicles was fraudulently assigned to the UK-based, Tatra Sipox, by showing it as original equipment manufacturer or fully- owned subsidiary of the Czech firm, Tatra,” said the CBI source.
“This was against provisions of the defence procurement procedure,” the source said.