CBI questions Vectra Chairman again

New Delhi: The CBI today questioned Vectra chairman Ravinder Rishi for the fifth time in connection with alleged irregularities in the Tatra truck supply to the Army even as it sought more documents from the Defence Ministry. Rishi is "cooperating" with the agency and has agreed to provide all the documents related the Tatra Sipox UK agreement with the BEML which was inked in 1997, CBI sources said.

The CBI is now focusing on the role of officials of Defence Ministry, BEML and Army and may question them in connection with the case soon, they said. The agency has approached Defence Ministry seeking help in providing it with documents related to supply of all terrain trucks for Army, they said. The sources said after going through these documents, the CBI will have a clear picture of the other accomplices in the case and would call them for questioning.

The sources said it was in 1997 that Tatra Sipox UK signed the truck supply deal with BEML which was in alleged violation of defence procurement rules which say that procurement should be done directly from original equipment manufacturer only. The first agreement for the supply for Tatra all terrain truck used for transport of soldiers, heavy machinery, missile systems etc was signed with Czechoslovakia-based company Tatra in 1986.

In 1997, BEML started procuring trucks through Tatra Sipox UK, claimed to be the marketing arm of Tatra, in which Ravinder Rishi had a substantial stake. CBI has alleged that since Tatra Sipox UK was not the original manufacturer of the these all terrain trucks, the rule that defence procurements should be made from original manufacturer was violated. Rishi had termed the allegations against him as unfortunate, saying the trucks were sold through public sector undertaking Bharat Earth Movers Limited. He also said the charges levelled with regard to Tatra trucks by Army Chief Gen V K Singh were baseless.