Neeraj Chauhan, TNN | Apr 19, 2012, 03.55AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation raided residences of two retired Army officers in connection with the Tatra-Vectra deal while investigators are also pursuing leads pointing to a nexus between Vectra head Ravi Rishi and the top brass of Indian public sector firm BEML.
The CBI on Wednesday carried out raids at the residences of Brigadier (retd) P C Das in Vasant Kunj and Colonel (retd) Anil Dutta in Noida. Das was also questioned at the CBI headquarters while the residence of a Vectra executive Anil Mansaramani at Noida was also searched.
CBI sources said they suspect Das and Dutta as having worked as conduits for Vectra head Rishi who is a London-based businessman. The agency feels that the two retired officers were liasioning for Vectra that is a crucial link in supply of Tatra trucks to the Army that is now under a graft cloud.
CBI hopes to make more progress when Army chief Gen V K Singh meets investigators after April 19 and his statement is recorded. The chief had set the cat among the pigeons by alleging that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe for the “underperforming” vehicles.
The agency questioned BEML chairman V R S Natarajan for almost six hours on Wednesday and sources said the probe was at a delicate stage as definite leads have emerged regarding BEML and Rishi in the Tatra trucks procurement process.
CBI reportedly asked Natarajan if he tried to verify, when BEML signed a contract with Tatra Sipox (UK), if any of the parts for making Tatra trucks were available with another company in India, said sources. Natarajan was also asked if BEML tried to find out the nature of Tatra Sipox (UK) contracts with other countries on supplies.
Natarajan and Rishi have refuted the allegations of any wrong doing.
Vectra, which has controlling stake in Tatra Sipox UK, and is at the centre of CBI investigations into alleged irregularities in the supply of all terrain vehicle components to the public sector BEML which assembles and supplies these vehicles to the Army. Along with Natarajan, Rishi was questioned for the ninth time on Wednesday.
It was in the light of information provided by Natarajan and Rishi, the agency found it necessary to search residences of the retired Army officials and the Vectra employee to try and gather documents that could help the agency. sources said. The CBI is looking for a link between Lt Gen (Retd) Tejinder Singh – who the army chief claims offered him a bribe — with Rishi through the two retired army officers.