The CBI on Thursday arrested a Mumbai-based chartered accountant and two government officials for allegedly leaking and selling confidential documents related to foreign investments from the finance and commerce and industry ministries. The CBI carried out raids at six locations in Delhi and two in Mumbai, and recovered Rs 60 lakh in cash from the residence and office of the CA-cum-consultant, Khemchand Gandhi.
The two government officials have been identified as Lalaram Sharma, a section officer in the department of economic affairs, and Ashok Kumar Singh, an under secretary in the department of disinvestment. Searches were conducted at the residences and offices of all the three accused, as well as the department of industrial policy and promotion.
“Documents were allegedly sold for a consideration by certain government officials to a Mumbai-based CA, who in turn passed on the documents to various corporate houses,” said a CBI spokesperson. Sources said the CBI today intercepted a courier in Mumbai, carrying confidential documents sent by Singh to Gandhi.
CBI sources said eight corporate houses are under the scanner: DLF Limitless Developers Pvt Ltd, HDFC Bank, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Modril India, Prime Living, NovaLead Pharma, IndusInd Bank and Kakardi British Realty.
In a statement, DLF “strongly denied any link”. “This is a mischievous attempt to malign DLF. We have absolutely no dealings with Khemchand Gandhi and we have never been in touch with Gandhi,” it said.
Despite repeated calls and messages, Glenmark Pharma’s official spokesperson was not available for comment. When contacted, IndusInd Bank did not comment on the development. HDFC Bank officials, when contacted, also did not comment on the issue. Modril India, Prime Living, NovaLead Pharma and Kakardi British Realty could not be reached for their comments.
The CBI has registered a case under IPC sections of criminal conspiracy (120-B) and theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master (381), as well as sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Unlike the cases being probed by the Delhi Police, the “custodians and initiators of the confidential documents’’ were themselves directly involved in selling the documents to the CA over the past two years, said sources.
In a separate investigation, the Delhi Police earlier registered two FIRs and arrested 16 persons in connection with the alleged leak of confidential government documents.
On February 19, two junior petroleum ministry officials and three middlemen were arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly leaking classified documents to energy companies. A day later, two energy consultants, Santanu Saikia and Prayas Jain, and five senior executives from top energy firms — Shailesh Saxena from RIL, Vinay Kumar from Essar, K K Naik from Cairns, Subhash Chandra from Jubilant Energy and Rishi Anand from ADAG Reliance — were arrested. Virendra Kumar, a casual worker in the defence ministry, was arrested on February 24 for allegedly providing a forged identity card to a key accused in this case.
A second module was busted by the Delhi Police when Lokesh Sharma, an energy consultant of Noida-based Infraline consultancy firm, was held on February 24. Two days later, the police arrested Jitender Nagpal, PS to a joint secretary in the MoEF, and Vipan Kumar, PA to a UPSC member.