In early March, when a Swedish public-television broadcaster, SVT, reported that an Indian subsidiary of one of Sweden’s largest vehicle manufacturers, Scania AB, had provided a luxury bus to Nitin Gadkari for his personal use, the minister’s denial was immediate and absolute. Gadkari, the union minister for road transport and highways, claimed to have no connection with the bus. But an internal audit by Scania AB, which we have accessed, reveals that the union minister outright lied. The audit examined emails and messages exchanged between top Scania executives and Gadkari’s sons, Sarang and Nikhil. Their correspondence revealed visits by the Gadkari family to the Scania facility in Bengaluru to inspect the bus, specifications about the desired interiors for the bus, and even disclosed payments organised by them. The audit report concluded, “The actual acquirers of the bus were Messrs. Nitin, Sarang and Nikhil Gadkari.”
The Group Internal Audit Report, titled “Investigation into the alleged provision of a Luxury Bus to a Senior Public Official,” was conducted from December 2017 to October 2018. The auditors scrutinised the phones, emails and hard drives of Scania India executives, which revealed the correspondence with Sarang and Nikhil, and subsequently ensured that this communication was verified by forensic experts at KPMG Sweden. The correspondence establishes a clear chronology of the events concerning the bus and reveals the close involvement of Sarang and Nikhil in the transactions, who were in direct and constant touch with Sivakumar Viswam, a former sales director at Scania India, at every step of the deal.
The audit examines communications of more than two years, starting from June 2015—shortly after a Scania India factory was setup near Bengaluru—until December 2017. During this period, Sarang Gadkari visited the Scania facility in Bengaluru to “inspect the bus.” He also visited the office of Dilip Chhabria Designs Private Limited, a popular car-design company that remodelled the interiors of the Metrolink bus. On both visits, Sarang was accompanied by Viswam.
Internal communication between Scania India officials show that the deal of the “bus for the minister” was discussed with the highest officials within Scania. The bus in question was a Scania Metrolink HD, and communications concerning the bus in the Scania India office included an email thread among top executives with the subject line, “Metrolink for Mr Gadkari.” Multiple officials within Scania AB office in Sweden, including the CEO Henrik Henriksson, confirmed to us that the bus was meant for the wedding of Nitin Gadkari’s daughter, Ketki, which was held in Nagpur in December 2016.
The audit report noted that the Gadkari family and Scania India used two companies as fronts for the bus—Transpro Motors Private Limited, which is Scania India’s local dealer in Karnataka that formally bought the bus, and then rented it to a Nagpur-based company, Sudarshan Hospitality Management Private Limited. The audit also disclosed the financial transactions surrounding this sequence of events. This included loans issued by Scania India’s sister concern, Volkswagen Finance Private Limited to Transpro Motors for the purchase of the bus. Volkswagen Finance and Scania India are both subsidiaries of the German vehicles manufacturer, Volkswagen AG. The audit report annexed the rental agreement between Transpro Motors and Sudarshan Hospitality, but the correspondence showed that Scania India officials requested the Gadkari brothers to clear pending rent payments for the Metrolink, instead of asking the company that formally rented the bus.