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Tatra case: CBI likely to send LR to UK

New Delhi: The CBI is looking into the payments made by defence PSU BEML to Tatra Sipox UK for the supply of all terrain trucks and plans to sent judicial request to the United Kingdom seeking details of its financial transactions and ownerships.

The agency suspects that payments from BEML were actually going to a tax haven, CBI sources said, adding that they are probing into it but added that the investigations are in preliminary stage.

The sources said at present they are likely to send Letters Rogatory to the UK seeking information on financial transactions of Tatra Sipox UK in which Vectra chairman Ravinder Rishi has been a Director, owning substantial shares.

The agency will also demand details of Tatra Sipox UK`s association with Czech-republic based Tatra a.s, they said. Rishi has refuted allegations of any wrong doing and is said to be co-operating with the agency during his questioning sessions during last week, the 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 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 CBI has alleged that since Tatra Sipox UK was not the original manufacturer of these all terrain trucks, the rule that defence procurements should be made from original manufacturer was violated.

Meanwhile, Czech Republic-based Tatra a.s. had said in a statement that it supplies for India various truck components ("CKDs") that make up approximately 30 to 35 per cent of a complete vehicle.

"The remaining components are made or supplied by other manufacturers or by BEML, an Indian government controlled company that also assembles the Tatra branded vehicles and then sells and delivers them to customers within India under license agreement for Tatra a.s," it had said in a statement.

It had also stated that neither Ravi Rishi nor his investment company Vectra Limited, control or have controlled — directly or indirectly — Tatra a.s.

"The British company Vectra Limited is a minority stakeholder in Tatra holdings and in principle holds one of the four votes. Nonetheless, Tatra will request from Mr Rishi and Vectra Limited an explanation of the information about any initiated investigation of him and Vectra Ltd by Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as it relates to sales of products branded with the `Tatra` name," it had said in a statement.

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