A government file containing details of shareholders, tax returns and registration records of Incar Tanzania Limited, a company linked to a controversial contract involving the supply of hundreds of vehicles to the Ministry of Defence and National Service, has mysteriously disappeared. According to available records, Incar Tanzania Ltd is a subsidiary of Shivacom Group of Companies, whose proprietor is prominent local business tycoon Tanil Somaiya. Somaiya is believed to have purchased Incar Tanzania Ltd under unclear circumstances several years ago. The company currently holds franchised dealership of M/S Iveco S.P.A., Italian manufacturers of IVECO (formerly Fiat) vehicles in Tanzania. Investigations by THISDAY have established that Incar Tanzania Ltds file number 3897 has since gone missing at the Business Registration and Licensing Authority (BRELA) offices in Dar es Salaam. The file is understood to contain records on past and present company directors and shareholders, tax returns and other important documents. Officials say a number of individuals and institutions have already made unsuccessful requests to BRELA to access and peruse the Incar Tanzania Ltd file. Officials familiar with the history of Incar Tanzania Ltd say the company was originally established way back in 1961 as Fiat Tanzania Limited. It was renamed as Incar Tanzania Ltd in 1965, before it was finally acquired in recent years by Shivacom Group. According to informed sources, the company was purchased by Somaiya and his then business partner, Shailesh Vithlani, in shady circumstances around the same time the defence ministry made the decision to buy a fleet of IVECO vehicles. Both Somaiya and Vithlani are linked to Merlin International Limited, a low-profile local company that was picked to supply a total of 628 military vehicles to the Ministry of Defence and National Service in a deal worth around 55 million euros (approx. 108bn/-). Sources say there was massive fraud involved in the entire valuation process leading up to the decision to award the tender to Merlin International in 2004/05. It is understood that although the companys bid failed to fulfil a number of important benchmarks such as history of maintenance, technical and financial requirements, it was still given the highest marks in the valuation. Furthermore, it has been verified that the Italian-make IVECO trucks quoted in Merlin International's bid were the most expensive vehicles on the list of sale offers received by the ministry. Sources say the unit cost for each IVECO truck was more than $100,000 (approx. 130m/-), and further assert that the military ended up buying vehicles it could hardly afford. It is also stated that the IVECO trucks have much higher maintenance costs than other alternative vehicles, and have a significant disadvantage in fuel economy. In fact, the military will end up spending more in fuelling and servicing the IVECO trucks in the next three years than the 55 million euros it spent to buy the vehicles, a senior government official told THISDAY. Apart from the fact that the IVECO trucks were the most expensive vehicles in the bid, several other procedures in the evaluation process were also flouted, sources say. They explain that one of the conditions for picking the winner was that special preference would be given to the bidder who offers trucks that the Tanzania Peoples' Defence Forces (TPDF) has previous experience of using in the past. According to available information, the TPDF had never previously owned a significant fleet of IVECO vehicles. A Chinese firm that had previously offered to deliver close to 1,000 military trucks and other related equipment to the Tanzanian government on the cheap was elbowed out of the contract in favour of the high-maintenance IVECO vehicles ordered through Merlin International, sources say. Officials say Complant International Transportation Company Limited of Beijing, China was initially given the go-ahead by Tanzanias defence ministry to deliver the vehicles for a fraction of the cost, before being out-manoeuvred by their rivals. Merlin International, with Vithlani and Somaiya at the helm, is also understood to be behind a string of other multi-billion shilling government contracts including the controversial military radar and presidential jet purchases.