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Tatra scam: CBI searches two ex army officers' homes

Delhi,Crime/Disaster/Accident,Defence/Security, Wed, 18 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Wednesday searched the homes of two former army officers in Delhi and Noida and recovered key documents related to the probe into alleged irregularities in the procurement of Tatra trucks for the Indian Army, sources said.


CBI sources said raids were conducted at the homes of Brig (retd) P.C. Das in south Delhi and Col (retd) Anil Datta in Noida.


They said searches were also conducted at the residence of Anil Mansaramani, an official of the Britain-based Vectra group that supplies the all-terrain heavy duty Tatra trucks to the Indian Army through defence public sector undertaking Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. (BEML).


The sources said three teams of CBI sleuths conducted the searches that began early Wednesday morning.


Some crucial documents bearing their signatures have been recovered indicating the retired army officers might have invested in getting the deal cleared.


"The documents now in our (CBI's) possession are being examined and are expected to help in investigating the scam-tainted truck deal," a source said.


The sources said the suspected former army officers were likely to be arrested but no decision has been taken so far.


The sources said the three were also questioned briefly. Das was called to the CBI headquarters here while the other two were quizzed during the search operations at their houses.


Also quizzed on Wednesday over the alleged lapses in the supply of Tatra trucks include former BEML director V. Mohan, the company's present chief V.R.S. Natarajan and Vectra group chief Ravinder Rishi.


They were questioned twice in as many days.


Tatra is a Czech manufacturer and owned by Britain's Vectra that supplies truck parts to BEML.


BEML assembles the trucks and sells them off to the army. Some 7,000 Tatra trucks have been bought by the army since 1986.


Army chief Gen V.K. Singh blew the lid off the alleged scam after he alleged in March that he'd been offered a Rs.14 crore bribe to clear a deal for supplying sub-standard Tatra trucks.


The army in a March 5 press release took the names of Tatra and BEML, alleging that Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh had offered a bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra.


The agency was probing why BEML decided to procure Tatra parts from Tatra Sipox (Britain), a private company, from 1997 when it was doing so through Omnipol (a state-owned unit in Czech Republic) since 1986.


The sources said CBI was trying to find out why BEML officials signed an agreement with Tatra Sipox (Britain) in a hurried manner June 14, 1997 in Bangalore, three days after they had a meeting with the firm and its associate companies' officials in Slovakia.


One more company, Venus Projects Ltd., in which Rishi allegedly has some stakes, was under the CBI scanner as he allegedly used it for purchasing spare parts for Tatra trucks, they said.


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