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Antony says he acted on BEML irregularities

Delhi,Business/Economy,Defence/Security, Fri, 30 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Friday said he had acted on complaints against defence public sector firm BEML a day after receiving complaints of irregularities forwarded to him on behalf of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in October 2009.


Antony's assertion came on the day media reports suggested that Antony had not acted on the complaints from Dr. D. Hanumanthappa, president of the Karnataka wing of All India Federation of SC/ST/Backward Classes and Minority Employees Welfare Association, who wrote to Gandhi.


The letter was forwarded by senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to Antony on behalf of Gandhi, the reports suggested.


"A day after receiving a letter from Ghulam Nabi Azad on Oct 5, 2009, forwarding the complaints of Dr. D. Hanumanthappa addressed to Sonia Gandhi on BEML, Antony had asked then Secretary Defence Production to look into the various issues raised in the complaint," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a release here.


"Records show that the vigilance wings of defence ministry and BEML are examining the matter and there are also correspondence between the Central Bureau of Investigation and Chief Vigilance Officer of BEML on these allegations," Kar said on behalf of Antony.


"Meanwhile, the defence minister has accorded his sanction for a CBI investigation on Feb 21, 2012 in another case relating to BEML, much before a newspaper report was published on Mar 26," he said, but did not provide details of the complaints in this regard.


The report in DNA newspaper from Mumbai had suggested that in August 2009, Hanumanthappa informed Gandhi that BEML chairman and managing director V.R.S. Natarajan had placed an order of Rs.6,000 crore for Tatra trucks from a United Kingdom agent and not from the original equipment manufacturer in violation of the defence procurement guidelines.


It also stated that no action had been taken on the complaint from Hanumanthappa, except for the ministry examining it.


BEML's business activities, in particular its Tatra trucks being produced under licence from an eponymously-named Czech firm, came under scanner following army headquarters named a retired Lieutenant General as having offered a Rs.14-crore bribe to Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh for giving a nod to an order for 600 trucks.


The retired Lt General has now gone to court, slamming the army chief with libel charges, while BEML and Tatra have denied the allegations against them.


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