Tatra asked BEML to do away with agents and offered discount

Tatra asked BEML to do away with agents and offered discount

In its probe in the Tatra truck scam, the CBI has found a 1994 offer letter from Czech manufacturer Tatra expressing willingness for direct collaboration with BEML for supplying completely built trucks at 40 per cent discount on their retail price, on condition to do away with intermediaries.

CBI sources said they have recovered the letter, a crucial evidence, from an official of Tatra a.s offering the deal in 1994 and is now trying to find if there was any sabotage. They said despite the offer of completely built trucks at nearly Rs 23 lakh a piece in 1994 directly from the manufacturer, the BEML entered into a deal with Ravinder Rishi promoted Tatra Sipox UK in 1997, which was an intermediary, at much higher rates.

The agency feels that this act was allegedly at the behest of some interested parties and is investigating this further in its probe, they said. The sources said India had entered into the truck supply deal with Czechoslovakia-based Tatra in 1986 through its authorised representative Omnipol.

After the division of the country in 1992, the company also got divided between Czech Republic-based Tatra a.s which manufactured 70 per cent of the truck and Slovakia-based Tatra Sipox which manufactured axles and chasis, they said.

They said close to the division of Czechoslovakia, there was chaos between 1991-94 when there was almost no supply and BEML, without any formal agreement, allegedly started procuring trucks from Venus, a representative of Tatra a.s. The sources said in the letter the Tatra a.s official also mentions about the "comfort level" BEML enjoyed with Venus, which was an intermediary.

In the proposal, he had offered BEML to enter into a fresh agreement with the company on two conditions -- terminate the 1986 agreement with Omnipol and remove any intermediary, they  said.

Sources said the proposal was very much in line with the Defence Procurement Rules which said defence purchases should either be through the manufacturer or its authorised representatives and Tatra a.s was insisting to do away with any intermediaries. The agency, which found this document during one of its searches, is likely to carry out another inspection of BEML facilities in Bangalore, they said, adding that inspection of another BEML facility was carried out this week.

CBI will also be seeking the details of this proposal and other offers from Tatra a.s to BEML through the judicial request it is planning to send to five countries, including Czech Republic and Slovakia, they said.

The sources alleged that despite Tatra a.s not having any formal agreement with Tatra Sipox UK for marketing its product and the latter not being its authorised representative, BEML still chose to enter into an agreement with it in 1997, which was a violation of Defence Procurement Rules. They said Tatra a.s had entered into an agreement with Venus projects to market its products, while Tatra Sipox UK, claimed to be a representative of Slovak-based Tatra Sipox, they said.

CBI sources said Rishi allegedly gave 50 per cent stake to Venus projects in Tatra Sipox UK to ensure he is able to supply products of both the companies to BEML,
which assembled them in India and supplied them to the Army at a premium.

In its judicial request, the agency will seek help from Hong Kong and the United Kingdom on the ownership structure and financial transaction of Venus and Tatra Sipox UK.

Rishi, who is named as an accused in the CBI FIR has denied any wrongdoing in the supply of trucks to BEML. The agency is probing alleged irregularities in assigning supply from Tatra, with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986, to the Tatra-Sipox UK owned by Rishi in 1997 showing it as Original Equipment manufacturer and the fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company which was against rules, they said.

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