Neeraj Chauhan, TNN Apr 13, 2012, 12.40AM IST
NEW DELHI: 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.
The CBI is scanning Rishi over a complaint by Gen Singh that he was approached by retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh for a contract for supply of Tatra trucks that the Army chief has said were substandard.
Rishi is being investigated for his links with Venus Projects as agency sources said the company was used by him for purchasing spare parts for Tatra trucks. The agency believes that the deal was signed between Rishi’s Vectra Group and BEML officials within three days of their meetings in 1997.
Sources said, “There was a meeting between BEML officials, Ravi Rishi’s Vectra group, Tatra Slovakia and other associates on June 11, 1997, in Slovakia, and on June 14, 1997, the MoU for procuring 600 Tatra trucks was signed in Bangalore”. CBI suspects BEML, a defence PSU, did not have a board meeting before the hurriedly-signed MoU.
Venus Projects is being seen as another link between Rishi and the Czech firm that projected the UK-based businessman’s Vectra group as the original equipment manufacturer to ensure that it remained central to any deal signed with BEML for supply of Tatra trucks, and didn’t flout the procurement norms.
Agency sources say that they have sought time from Gen V K Singh to know more about the bribe offer. The probe team is hoping to meet the Army chief on Friday, and later call Tejinder Singh for questioning.
The agency has sought documents of Venus Projects and Tatra Sipox (UK) to know about the meetings held in June, 1997. CBI is also likely to call officials of BEML who were involved in the MoU signed on June 14, 1997. CBI is also examining a large number of documents related to contracts of BEML for procuring Tatra trucks since 1997. The agency will also be questioning BEML chief V R S Natarajan soon.
The agency is also in the process of sending Letter Rogatories (LRs) to Czech Republic (original Tatra a s is based there), Slovakia and the UK.