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Tatra scam: CBI opposes Vectra chief's plea to go abroad

August 07, 2012 14:51 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday vehemently opposed in the Supreme Court any permission for NRI businessman and controversial Vectra company chief Ravinder Rishi to visit the United Kingdom for medical treatment of his various ailments, saying he may not return.

Appearing before a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J Chelameswar, Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval submitted that the investigating agency was apprehensive that if Rishi was allowed to leave the country he would not return.

57-year-old British national, Rishi, is facing a CBI probe in connection with alleged irregularities in supply of Tatra all-terrain trucks to public sector BEML.

The ASG stated that the accused' alleged role in the deal and conduct during the investigation does not inspire confidence and his plea to travel abroad was only an "attempt to evoke the sympathy of this court".

The CBI placed before the bench various medical reports including sonography to state "there is no danger" to his health.

Responding to certain queries from the bench, which was not convinced with the CBI's argument, the ASG maintained that there were certain facts which cannot be stated in an affidavit but can be disclosed in a sealed cover to the court.

"There are certain things which we cannot put on an affidavit. I can disclose these things in a sealed cover to your Lordships as to what materials we have collected. He is the prime accused in the FIR, a central figure in all the documents of the investigating agency," Raval said.

However, senior counsel for Rishi, Mukul Rohatgi rejected the allegations of the CBI and said it was only an attempt to "cover up" the role of the BEML in the entire episode.

"I am willing to keep my house in Delhi worth Rs 100 crore as a surety", Rohatgi said, while seeking permission for his client to travel abroad.

The apex court, while recording Raval's offer to disclose in a sealed cover certain alleged incriminating material against Rishi before it, posted the matter for further hearing on August 22.

On July 30, the court had granted the Centre and the CBI a week's time to file their replies on Rishi's plea to visit United Kingdom for treatment of various medical complications.

Rishi's counsel had submitted before the court that he is suffering from "cirrhosis of the liver with portal hypertension" and other complications, which required expert medical treatment and that being a British national and earlier undergoing treatment there, it was necessary for him to continue the treatment in England for at least 30 days.

The counsel had also submitted that Rishi was cooperating with the investigation agency and had visited them at least on 10 occasions without giving scope for any complaint.

The Vectra chief has been quizzed several times at CBI headquarters here in connection with alleged irregularities in the Tatra truck deal as he has a substantial stake in Tatra Sipox UK.

The CBI has registered a case naming Rishi and unnamed officials of defence ministry, Army and BEML on March 30 for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI is probing alleged irregularities in assigning of supply from the then Czechoslovakia-based Tatra, with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986, to Tatra-Sipox UK owned by Rishi in 1997 showing it as original equipment manufacturer and fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company.
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