The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today registered a money-laundering case against Vectra Group chairman Ravinder Rishi and his firms, alleging generation of illegal funds in the defence deal between Tatra Sipox UK and state-owned defence supplier Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. Rishi's Vectra holds a majority stake in Tatra Sipox.
A Central Bureau of Investigation probe followed a sensational allegation by Army chief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh that he was offered a Rs14 crore bribe to facilitate the purchase of Tatra-Vectra trucks by the Army, sourced through BEML. He claimed these multi-purpose trucks, which the Army has been purchasing for years, are substandard and overpriced.
The tax evasion agency registered the case after gathering initial details of the probe from the CBI and other official channels; and it is set to question more people in this regard, apart from subjecting Rishi to a further grilling.
The CBI had begun questioning Rishi last month. After filing a first information report (FIR) on 30 March, the agency and promptly conducted raids on the premises of several BEML officials, including its chairman and managing director V R S Natarajan in Bangalore. Offices and residences of other BEML officials in Bangalore, Mysore, and Delhi were also raided, with documents and computer discs seized.
The ED has asked Rishi to produce documents related the Tatra Sipox memorandum of understanding with BEML, which was inked in 1997; including the details of their financial statements and tax returns.
The ED will ask for similar documents from BEML and if necessary from the defence ministry reports said.