Union Minister Nitin Gadkari (Image: Reuters)
Swedish automobile manufacturer Scania has discovered evidence that its employees in India were involved in bribing local officials for bus contracts.
The company, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, said it had taken measures to address the suspected corruption, according to a report by Bloomberg. Bribes of 65,000 euros were allegedly paid to local officials at Indian state-owned bus companies in at least 19 cases, according to a German news channel which cited an internal investigation report.
Scania is also alleged to have falsified vehicle documents and registration papers for 100 trucks in order to be able to sell them to a state-run coal mining company in India, the report added.
The Bloomberg news report suggested that managers who were potentially involved have left the major truck brand. Additionally, Scania has stopped selling buses in India.
Chief Executive Officer Henrik Henriksson confirmed these developments to Swedish public broadcaster SVT.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify these news reports.
Luxury bus row
The public broadcaster had also reported alleging that Scania had also delivered a specially equipped luxury bus to a company with connections to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari that was intended for his daughter's wedding and was not fully paid for.
Responding to the report, Gadkari's office said in a statement that the union minister and "his family members have absolutely nothing to do with the purchase or sale of the bus".
"Since the entire episode of the Scania bus is an internal affair of the Swedish company, it will [be] prudent for the media to wait for an official statement by Scania India which handled the matter," it added.
News agency Reuters quoted a Scania spokesperson as saying that the company had not sold a bus to Gadkari and had declined to comment further.
Read: Sweden's Scania admits 'misconduct' in India after contract-for-bribes report
“The media allegations that in November 2016, Scania delivered a luxury bus to a company that had close ties with Gadkari’s sons are malicious, fabricated, and baseless,” The Indian Express quoted the statement from Gadkari’s office as saying. “And the allegations that the bus was not paid for and was used for the wedding of Gadkari’s daughter are nothing but a figment of media’s imagination.”
Scania told The Indian Express that the company had sold the Scania Metrolink bus to one of its Bengaluru-based dealers called Transpro Motors. This company in turn sold it to Nagpur-based Sudarshan Hospitality. Sudarshan Hospitality has reportedly denied sending any bus to Gadkari for personal use.
Talking about the bus allegedly used by Gadkari family, Hans-Ake Danielsson, a Scania spokesperson based in Sweden said: “This particular bus was purchased from Scania India in 2016 by one of the company’s private dealers who delivered it to one of its customers (an Indian bus operator). I have no information about the current status of the bus.”
Gadkari’s office said that the union minister had pioneered the introduction of Scania’s Ethanol-run bus in Nagpur as a part of a drive to bring green public transport to India.
Gadkari encouraged the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) to initiate a pilot project and the civic body signed a commercial MOU with the Swedish company, his office added.