Monday, June 4, 2012

Manmohan's PPP model with tainted Ravi Rishi

[These articles appeared on 'The Pioneer on April 6 & 11, 2012]

Tatra- tainted Rishi has lion’s share in Govt’s expo hub

April 11, 2012

Controversial arms dealer Ravinder Kumar Rishi’s Vectra Investments is a major stakeholder in Central Government’s mega handicrafts hub and export venture, India Expo Centre and Mart. This project spread over 58 hectares in Greater Noida with 1,800 shops was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006.

According to statements submitted to SEBI by Rishi’s Global Vectra Helicorp, the India Exposition Mart Limited, where Rishi’s Vectra Investments has a 20-per cent share, is the biggest share holder in India Expo Centre & Mart. The Government, through Export

Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) under Textile Ministry, subscribed to 9.02 per cent share in this Rishi-controlled project, which operates across the world, dealing with handicrafts sale, export and import.

Apart from Vectra Investments and EPCH, the remaining stakes in the company are held by minority individual share holders on rotation basis, mostly the handicrafts exporters and traders basically from Moradabad.

Inaugurating the India Expo Centre on January 6, 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed this project as a classical example of Public-Private Partnership success.

“The Prime Minister complimented the Textile Minister for the performance of the industry and lauded its contribution to the export earnings as well as employment generation in the country. He also congratulated the promoters of the Mart and EPCH for timely completion of the project. He said that patterned on the PPP model, this Mart would set an example for many others,” said a supplement issued by EPCH in connection with the inauguration.

In lieu of its 9.02- per cent share, two Government nominees are on the board of this company having worldwide presence. A joint secretary in-charge of exports in the Textile Ministry and another official nominated by Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) are the two directors of the Rishi-controlled company. The records of the Registrar of Company show that after setting up the headquarters in Greater Noida, the India Exposition Mart Limited nominated on its board two officials from Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority.

India Exposition Mart Limited, where Rishi and his family members have controlling stakes, has either set up or is in the process of setting up centralised export centres in Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Utrecht in the Netherlands and Shanghai. Like in his other companies, in India Expo Mart also several retired Army officials hold key posts.

In Vectra Investments Private Limited, registered in Bangalore in 1997, which controls all Rishi’s ventures including the India Expo Mart, his close family members Deepti Rishi, Suruchi Rishi, Swati Rishi, Rati Rishi and Hemang Rishi are share holders along with him.

With Rishi on the CBI radar in Tatra truck deal, the disclosure will be embarrassing for the Government, which will find it difficult to explain why they selected him as a key partner in handicrafts development in local and international market when he did not have any expertise in the field.

Sources said CBI was probing Rishi’s proximity to suspended IAS couple Arvind Kumar Joshi and Tinoo Joshi. Recently investigators seized Rs 360 crore from the Bhopal residence of this couple. During 1999-2004, Arvind was a Joint Secretary level officer in Defence Ministry. More importantly, Tinoo was Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) during this period, when EPCH under her decided to partner with Rishi’s expo mart project.

Vectra’ Ravi Rishi no stranger to controversy

April 6, 2012-06-02

Arms dealer Ravi Rishi’s Vectra is not new to controversy. His companies were also at the centre of a scandal leading to the cancellation of the multi-billion Eurocopter deal for purchase of 197 choppers for the Indian Army in 2007.

Vectra’s subsidiary Global Vectra Helicorp is headed by one Lt Gen (rtd) SJS Sehgal, who was also a director of the Vectra Aviation, sole distributor of the Eurocopter choppers. He was also former head of the Army’s aviation wing. Incidentally, his younger brother, then serving Lt General HS Sehgal, was involved in the trials of the Bell and Eurocopter choppers for more than a year to select the bidder.

The deal was cancelled after Bell complained to the Ministry of Defence on the role of Sehgal brothers and Rishi’s companies in trying to swing the deal in favour of the Eurocopter.

Hoping to get the deal in favour of Eurocopter, at one point Vectra Aviation was planning to set up a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) for Eurocopter choppers in India at an estimated investment of 6 million Euros.

In their complaint, Bell pointed to the clash of interest and role of middlemen. It cited that younger Sehgal was involved in the field evaluation and preparation of trial reports for the two helicopter companies whereas the senior Sehgal was lobbying for Eurocopter .

However, Rishi’s name did not figure in the controversy as media focus remained on the two brothers.

A series of financial statements filed by Rishi in 2006 to SEBI for floating IPO for Global Vectra Helicorp shows that several retired top Army officials were associated with the slew of companies floated by him over the past 14 years. Apart from this several retired middle level officers from the forces and their relatives are holding managerial positions in Rishi’s companies.

Lt General RIS Kahlon, who recently passed away, was the Director of Tetra Trucks India Limited and Vectra Advanced Engineering.

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