The defence ministry officials confirmed today that the defence ministry has put on hold all business dealings with Vectra Advanced Engineering Private Limited for one year. This is due to the earlier corruption charges in the supply of heavy-duty Tatra trucks to the army. Vectra supplied the Czech-made all-terrain Tatra trucks to the army through Bharat Earth Movers Limited.
Infact, eight years ago, then army chief General VK Singh in 2012 had alleged that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear the purchase of substandard Tatra trucks.
Not just that, in 2016, defence ministry cleared its new blacklisting policy for “suspending or banning” arms contractors for wrongdoings. Dealings with Vectra have been suspended under the 2016 policy that contains penalties that debars firms from conducting business with the government for a period ranging from one to 10 years to remove corruption in the defence sector. The armed forces have inducted over 7,000 Tatra all-terrain trucks through a BEML tie-up first with Czech firm Omnipol and then Tatra Sipox of US.
The Defence Ministry in its letter cites two FIRs by the CBI RC AC1 2012 A0004 dated 30th March 2012 and RC AC1 2012 A0014 dated 19th October 2012. Gen VK Singh had alleged that he was offered bribe while in office for clearing procurement of 600 all-terrain Tatra trucks from BEML. As per reports, it is believed that the state-run corporation was participating in a multi crore acquisition programme by the Indian Army when the ban has been imposed.
A circular posted on the defence ministry’s website said the decision to suspend business with Vectra was in line with the government’s penalties for wrongdoing in business dealings. The suspension has been approved by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
The circular said the decision to put all dealings with Vectra on hold for a year was taken in the light of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation into the Tatra deal in 2012 and bribery allegations made by former army chief General VK Singh, who is now a union minister. This comes after a special court last year had castigated the CBI for filing a closure report in the case by citing lack of evidence.