The CBI has estimated that the purchase of 5,000 Tatra all-terrain trucks for the army since 1997 in violation of defence purchase norms enabled London-based Vectra chief Ravinder Rishi to pocket Rs. 250 crore.
He made around Rs. 5 lakh per truck that cost the army Rs. 72 lakh in 2010, CBI sources said.
Rishi has been named as an accused in the FIR registered by the CBI, which is probing the deal on the basis of complaints by the defence ministry and other sources.
Rishi, who came to India last month to participate in a defence equipment exhibition, has been questioned by the CBI several times.
The CBI is also focusing on the role of top officials of the public sector Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), which purchased the trucks through Tatra Sipox (UK) -part of the Vectra group - instead of procuring them directly from the Czech manufacturer.
Investigators found that Tatra a.s., the Czech maker of the trucks, repeatedly wrote to BEML to purchase directly but the requests were ignored.
When BEML entered into an agreement with Tatra Sipox, the latter did not have the right to use the Tatra trademark. So, a clause was added that BEML would not use the word Tatra on the trucks but could mention the model number.
This enabled BEML to show that the trucks were procured from the original manfacturer. The speciality of a Tatra truck is its swinging axles, which enables the wheels to negotiate uneven terrains independently to maintain its cargo in balance.
Another Czech company, TANAX, which used to manufacture such axles, was later acquired by Rishi's group. CBI investigators feel that if the special axles were made by another company, then separate quotes for them from the manufacturing company should have been sought by BEML officials.