1. Petroleum Ministry document leak: Caught in corporate espionage case, Reliance Industries, Essar, Cairn India, R-ADAG

Petroleum Ministry document leak: Caught in corporate espionage case, Reliance Industries, Essar, Cairn India, R-ADAG

Cracking down Reliance Industries (RIL), Essar, Cairn, RADAG on a suspected case of corporate espionage, Delhi Police arrested two Oil Ministry officials, RIL staffer and two other middlemen...

By: | New Delhi | Updated: February 20, 2015 1:04 PM
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Petroleum Ministry document leak: Office of Reliance Industries Ltd, Barakhamba road, where raid was conducted in New Delhi . Express photo By Amit Mehra

Cracking down Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL), Ruia’s of Essar, Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta group company Cairn India and Anil Ambani-led Reliance Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) on a suspected case of corporate espionage, Delhi Police on Thursday arrested two Oil Ministry officials, RIL staffer and two other middlemen for allegedly leaking classified government documents to energy companies for money – on Friday, former journalist Santanu Saikia was arrested.

Following up on the arrests, raids were conducted at several establishments including a prominent building in Connaught Place which houses offices of a leading private petroleum firm believed to be Reliance Industries and it went on late in the night.

In a case reminiscent of the spy scandal in mid 80s, some journalists who claimed to be independent energy consultants, and employees of certain petro companies were also said to have been detained for questioning in the development that has set off sensation in political and corporate circles. (Also read: Centre vows crackdown)

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Disclosing details of the case, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi told newsmen that action was taken on a tip off that two persons along with their associates were involved in “procuring, obtaining and stealing the official documents by trespassing into the offices of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas at Shastri Bhawan on February 17.” They used to intrude in the night, he said.

“A trap was laid and three persons came in an Indigo car near Shastri Bhawan. Two persons alighted and went inside while the third remained sitting in the car. After around two hours, when the two persons entered the car, all three persons were apprehended,” he said.

They were identified as Lalta Prasad (36), Rakesh Kumar (30) and Raj Kumar Chaubey (39). Official documents were recovered from them. (Also read: Reliance Industries reacts)

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Petroleum Ministry document leak: Delhi Police’s Inter State Cell Crime Branch office in Chanakyapuri where some of those arrested were interrogated. Express photo by Amit Mehra

Sources said that more arrests are likely in this case, being probed by elite Crime Branch, in the next couple of days.

Reliance Industries said it has been brought to the company’s notice that one personnel has been detained by law-enforcement authorities.

“We are unaware of more details. An internal probe is underway as per our robust internal standards. The matter is under investigation as per law and we are determined to cooperate in every possible manner.

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Cracking down Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL), Essar, Cairn, R-ADAG on a suspected case of corporate espionage, Delhi Police on Thursday arrested two Oil Ministry officials, RIL staffer and two other middlemen for allegedly leaking classified government documents to energy companies for money. (Reuters)

“We are already in International Arbitration with the said ministry on all important matters. Our only expectation is a fair and expeditious resolution of our legal rights and contentions by the Arbitrators,” a company official said.

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An earlier statement that there was no information residing in the ministry which was of commercial consequence to us was dropped by the company later.

Bassi said documents were stolen, photocopied and leaked from the Oil Ministry in return for money and the investigators will soon apprehend the recipients of the papers.

He said the theft and leaking of confidential documents may have been going on for years. Bassi said this was being leaked to certain independent consultants and energy companies some of whom are being interrogated.

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Petroleum Ministry espionage case: Office of Reliance Industries, Barakhamba road, where raid was conducted in New Delhi. Express photo By Amit Mehra.

Terming it as a serious case, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said strong action would be taken against the the employees of his ministry who allegedly leaked the documents to private companies.

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Terming it as a serious case, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said strong action would be taken against the the employees of his ministry who allegedly leaked the documents to private companies. (PTI)

“They will be severely dealt with. Police are probing the case. We will take strong action against the guilty. Government will come down hard on them,” he said when asked about the case.

Asked whether any corporate lobbyist could be involved, the Petroleum Minister said it was up to the police to investigate.

“The government was conscious. Agencies are investigating. They will come out with full facts,” he said.

According to police, during interrogation it was revealed that Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar are brothers and both had earlier been temporarily employed as Multi Tasking Staff at Shastri Bhawan.

 

 

  “In the year 2012, both left the employment. During their stint at Shastri Bhawan, they realised that they could easily lay hand on the official documents. “They further disclosed that they were assisted by their father Asharam and Ishwar Singh, both Multi Tasking Staff employees at Shastri Bhawan. Following which, Asharam (58) and Ishwar Singh (56) were also arrested,” said Joint Commissioner Ravindra Yadav. (Read more: Corporate lobbyist ) Location of Petroleum Ministry on Google Maps: View Larger Map Bassi said that all those who are recipients of stolen property will be questioned and action taken. If the documents fall under the purview of the Official Secrets Act, then the relevant sections will also be imposed. “We have recovered duplicate keys used by them for accessing the offices of the MoPNG officials, forged ID card and fraudulently obtained temporary passes were also recovered. “The Indigo car was having an unauthorised signage declaring the car to be of Bharat Sarkar/Government of India and case was registered at Crime Branch Police Station,” said Ravindra Yadav. Recently, CCTV cameras were installed at Shastri Bhawan. In order to evade the surveillance of the CCTV cameras, they got disabled CCTV cameras during the time they entered Shastri Bhawan. Those arrested have been booked under IPC sections for trespassing, forgery, theft and others. “We are questioning the recipients too. We will catch everyone involved,” Bassi said. Pradhan said no one involved in the case will be spared.  

 

“Government is very strict on such things… very strict action within the purview of the law will be taken against all those involved,” he said.

Vigilance was kept after official documents appeared in public domain, he said adding 2-3 persons of his ministry and outside have been arrested by police.

Leakage of official documents was a hindrance in running of a free and fair government, he said, adding that the law will take its own course in the matter.

“Those behind this… whosoever is behind, will be booked. Let police do its own job, everything will come out,” he said.

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