New Delhi: Tata Sons director Vijay Singh had played a key role in the Agusta Westland chopper scam in which former Air Chief SP Taygi has been arrested. This is the latest salvo fired by Cyrus Mistry fired at his mentor turned foe Ratan Tata.
The contract with Finmeccanica’s British arm Agusta Westland wfor VVIP choppers was cancelled in January 2014 on charges of Rs 423-crore kickbacks.
The former Tata Sons chairman also said that Vijay Singh “concocted theories” to defend his role in Ratan Tata’s decision to replace him (Mistry).
Vijay Singh was member of Nominations and Remuneration Committee of Tata Sons that gave a glowing review of Mistry's performance on June 28, 2016.
Mistry issued statement few minutes after Tata Sons issued a statement making a series of allegations against Mistry,. The main accusations are that Mistry of mislead the panel to get himself elected as chairman, retracted on his promises, concentrated powers and used free-hand given to him to weaken management structures.
Tata Sons Mistry removed from board of various group companies. In its statement, Tata Sons said that it wants to tell public the reasons that led to the loss of confidence" in Mistry and later his removal.Text of release sent out by Mistry's office.
Vijay Singh in his interview on 7th December, where he seems to allude to "true reasons" for Mr. Ratan Tata's actions of October 24th.It's amusing to see Vijay Singh concoct theories to defend his role in Ratan Tata's conspiracy to replace Mr Cyrus Mistry. To understand the true motives of Mr. Vijay Singh's statements, it is important to understand his track record. A few facts for the record:
Vijay Singh's track record at Tata Sons:
- Vijay Singh was a member of the Nominations and Remuneration Committee (NRC) of Tata Sons that on June 28, 2016 gave a glowing review of the performance of Mr. Mistry as Chairman of the Group. To quote :
"After reviewing the performance of the Executive Chairman, the members unanimously recorded their recognition of his significant contributions across Group companies and expressed their appreciation of his multi-faceted initiatives aimed at preserving and promoting cohesive functioning of the Group in accordance of its distinctive values"
In fact, Mr. Vijay Singh also stated that "Tata Motors have come up with some of their best models in recent years". His colleague Mr. Ronnen Sen, an independent director, also added that "from his experience, Mr. Mistry had earned the respect of not only CEOs and senior management but also operational personnel".
- Vijay Singh was part of the Tata Sons Board that agreed that the company can evaluate opportunities in the QSR segment in their Board meeting of June 29, 2016.
- Vijay Singh alludes to two separate bids from both Tata Power and Tata Motors for the Future Combat Infantry Vehicle. He was very much in the loop on various discussions on the project as the documents will show. What is beyond comprehension is that Mr. Vijay Singh seems to want Tata Sons to favour one listed Tata Company over another. This would not happen under Mr. Mistry's watch.
- Regarding Welspun, Vijay Singh, as a Trust Nominated Director explicitly supported this strategy when a note on the topic was circulated amongst the Board members. Later, he along with Nitin Nohria, had to leave the Board Room for over an hour to take instructions from Mr. Ratan Tata on how to articulate his mind on the Board deliberations. Perhaps he needed guidance on how to overcome his past excitement in favour of the transaction.
- Incidentally, Vijay Singh's compensation increased from Rs. 90 lakhs to Rs. 1.3 crores over the last year, an increase of nearly 45% - the same year Mr. Mistry restricted his pay increase to 6%.Vijay Singh's track record before Tata Sons Vijay Singh, former Defence Secretary of Government of India, has made insinuations about ethics. Some facts gleamed from a perusal of public records seem to indicate a less than glorious past.
" In 2006, he was unceremoniously removed from the post of Chief Secretary by the then Chief Minister during the clean-up of the 700 Crore Inter Corporate Deposit (ICD) Scam in Madhya Pradesh. While nothing may have come up against him in that case, he's surely putting his experience with deposing office bearers in positions of governance to good use now.
" In 2008-2009: Involvement in AugustaWestland: As recent media headlines indicate, the Ex-Chief of the IAF SP Tyagi, was arrested by the CBI in the AugustaWestland Chopper Scam. Many questions continue to remain unanswered.
As defence secretary, Mr. Vijay Singh was a key official involved in the award of the Rs. 3600 Cr VVIP helicopter contract to AugustaWestland in 2010. It is a matter of public record that the government had to cancel the contract, dubbed "Choppergate" by the media, due to charges of corruption and graft.
In 2010: Mr. Ratan Tata had set up a JV with Italy-based Finmeccanica SpA's helicopter unit AgustaWestland, called Indian Rotor Craft (IRL) to manufacture AW119 utility helicopters. Media reports indicate that the assembly line envisaged in this JV would address part of Finmeccanica's offset obligation arising from the sale of the now cancelled VVIP helicopters
After the retirement of Mr. Ratan Tata, on his instructions, Mr. Vijay Singh was invited to join the Tata Sons Board in 2013 as a nominee of the Tata Trusts.
It is a matter of record that Mr. Ratan Tata travelled to Italy to "voluntarily depose" for Finmeccanica's chief Mr.Guiseppe Orsi as a defense witness in 2014. Incidentally, in April of this year, an Italian court sentenced Mr. Orsi to jail for false accounting and corruption over the sale of the 12 AugustaWestland helicopters to India.
Lastly, Mr. Vijay Singh interestingly makes some allegations regarding real estate transactions, as against being in the ethos of the Tata group. He might have forgotten that in late 2007, Mr. Ratan Tata and Mr. RK Krishnakumar, then Chairman of Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited, shepherded through the Board of Tata Sons, a real estate transaction worth Rs.1700 Crores to Unitech, a few months before the 2G spectrum was awarded to them. The infamous transaction was the subject of significant investigation as part of the 2G scam.