The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against unknown officials of Air India, multinational computer giant IBM and German software firm SAP AG in connection with alleged irregularities in procurement of software worth Rs 225 crore by the national carrier in 2011.
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The agency has registered the case on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) which has prima facie found procedural irregularities in the procurement of the software, CBI sources said.
Early 2011, Air India had decided to implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) and signed a contract with SAP and IBM for the same on January 6 that year. An investigation was later conducted by the central vigilance officer of Air India which found that no tenders were issued before hiring IBM for the project. The company was merely nominated.
The entire decision was cleared by the Air India board within one day, said sources. This was redflagged by the CVC which rejected the Air India contention that there were only two operators—IBM and Oracle—and the latter was already engaged with Air India.
After considering the reports of Chief Vigilance Officer of Air India, the Commission in a communication to CBI said it was of the view that there were “serious procedural and other irregularities” in the procurement as well as amount paid and extent of services rendered.
The CVC had asked the CBI to probe the “irregularities in the tendering process and award of contract and undue benefit caused to the SAP/IBM”.
It had also asked the agency to investigate whether any of the persons who dealt with the issue at IBM and in the government got any financial or other benefits, besides irregularities relating to the registration by the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal.
CBI has registered the FIR under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and cheating. An email sent to IBM and SAP AG for a reaction did not elicit any response till the time of going to press.