CBI grills former BEML CMDs in Tatra case

They were charged with conspiracy and cheating

The CBI has questioned two former chairmen-cum-managing directors (CMDs) and four senior officials of government-owned defence company BEML in connection with alleged irregularities in procurement and supply of Tatra trucks to the Army.

Former CMDs T V S Shastry and V R S Natrajan were questioned and four directors, who were on the board when the deal was struck, were summoned, officials said.

The CBI In March 2012 registered a case against Vectra chief Ravi Rishi and unnamed officials of the Defence Ministry, Army and BEML, for alleged criminal conspiracy and cheating. They were also charged with relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Vectra and Rishi have denied any wrongdoing.

Shastry and Natarajan could not be contacted for comments.

In 1997, Tatra Sipox UK, owned by Rishi, signed a truck supply deal with BEML, allegedly in violation of defence procurement rules, which mandates procurement directly from original equipment manufacturer. The CBI alleged that since Tatra Sipox UK was not the original manufacturer of the all-terrain trucks, that rule was violated.

The FIR said unknown officials of BEML allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with one of the owners of a UK-based company, having a name similar to a Czech company, which was the manufacturer of the military trucks.

The agreement signed earlier with the Foreign Trade Corporation of Czechoslovakia was fraudulently assigned to a UK-based company by portraying it as a fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company.

Former Army chief General V K Singh had alleged in 2012 that he was offered Rs 14 crore as bribe to clear "sub-standard" trucks.

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