Wealthy NRI at the centre
of army truck scandal

 

Wealthy NRI at the centre
of army truck scandal

The CBI is further investigating the alleged association of Vectra Chairman Ravi Rishi with some top bureaucrats including Arvind and Tinoo Joshi, an IAS couple from Madhya Pradesh against whom there are now several charges of graft and corruption. A raid on their residence a few days ago produced the equivalent of Dh3 million in cash.

By (Our Correspondent)

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Published: Wed 25 Apr 2012, 12:13 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:41 AM


Ravi Rishi: Is he the new high profile scapegoat?

According to the probe it is alleged this couple was in touch with Ravi Rishi and facilitated Rishi’s dealings in the defence department.

A question that will clearly arise out of this completely embarrassing mess is why the incumbent army chief, General V K Singh did not react more forthrightly to the bribe offer made to him some fourteen months ago and why did he wait till the end of his tenure.

In the din over this scandal and the furore over the controversial promotion of Lt. Gen Bikram Singh in being named the next chief, a step already sullied by legal protests, little has been said about the functioning levels of the much-maligned Tatra trucks which have been manufactured since WW II and have a record of performance for 70 years. According to some sources, there is nothing substandard about them and their ‘breakdown’ quotient is at the expected average for the heavy duty they perform in rough terrain.

Why then was a bribe offered when the deal was part of an ongoing purchase programme?

Instead of investigating this aspect, the scandal has again shifted to the nexus between Rishi and the bureaucrats. The couple’s proximity with Rishi is reported to have established itself when Arvind Joshi, the husband, was posted as Joint Secretary at the Defence Ministry during 1999-2004. It is during this tenure that Rishi’s Vectra group, either coincidentally or otherwise, signed defence deals for the supply of 12 light helicopters, they said.

Reports indicate that Ravi Rishi, the NRI businessman who owns the UK-based Vectra group that sold the Tatra trucks to the Indian Army, is very cool and calm under interrogation and taking it all in his stride. He has a full time professional PR company working for him and all queries are directed to them.

On Sunday, the CBI issued restraining instructions on Rishi to prevent him from leaving the country. His passport has been impounded and the CBI says they may interview him again on the allegation made by General Singh that a retired officer, Lt. Gen Tejinder Singh had offered him a bribe of roughly Dh12 million to clear a deal of 600 trucks. Now, he is purportedly saying it was Rishi. So how many people actually offered this bribe? There is speculation that Rishi could face arrest in the case because he could be the most convenient face of the scandal. He is rich, he is an NRI and he deals in military equipment, ideal basis for making him first choice suspect. Last week, his home in Delhi and various properties had been raided, and allegedly some documents relating to the controversial deal were recovered. Why he would keep them so easily accessible as a shrewd businessman when the heat was on is inexplicable?

The CBI has approached the income tax (I-T) department to find out if its probe against the suspended IAS couple in Madhya Pradesh, Arvind Joshi and Tinoo Joshi, had produced any more tangible evidence to prove that they knew Rishi well during those five years and if they had helped him create his network.

news@khaleejtimes.com



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