Tatragate India: Tatra’s army truck monopoly investigated

NEW DELHI: The CBI, which registered a case against Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh on Saturday for allegedly trying to bribe then Army chief General VK Singh to clear the purchase ofTatra trucks for the Army, is conducting a parallel inquiry into the complaint regarding the monopoly Tatra has enjoyed for two decades in supplying all-terrain trucks to the defence forces. Sources said the chargesheet in the case is in the final stages and could be filed in a Delhi court shortly. The agency is expected to charge officials of Tatra and the public sector Bharat Earth Movers Limited.

Sources said the raids were conducted at the residences of Rishi’s aide Gautam Thadani, MD of Global Healthline Private Ltd, Rajan Madhu, director of F-Bar in Ashoka Hotel and Rishi’s employees Anil Mansaramani and Vikram Kakia. CBI sleuths recovered Rs 98 lakh from Thadani’s house.

CBI sources said preliminary investigation established Tejinder Singh’s meeting with the then Army chief as well as that the latter was unhappy with what had transpired. During its probe, the CBI also established Tejinder Singh visited General V K Singh on September 22, 2010 because “the file related to procurement of Tatra trucks was lying on the table of army chief that day” and that “Tejinder Singh offered bribe on behalf of Ravi Rishi as he is closely associated with the latter”.

Defence minister AK Antony’s confirmation of General V K Singh’s “oral complaint” was found to be strong corroborative evidence.

But what strengthened the case for a formal investigation was evidence of Tejinder Singh’s alleged dealings with lobbyists for arms manufacturers, including a Korean company. Tejinder Singh has been booked under section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Under Section 12 of the Act, a person who abets the offence of making a public servant accept illegal gratification, whether or not that offence is committed in consequence of that abetment, can be punished with a minimum punishment of six months in jail which may extend to five years.

“We have evidence of his links with a shadowy set of former defence officers who were on the payroll of arms manufacturers and suppliers,” said a senior CBI source.