In the ongoing investigation in the alleged Rs 134-crore scam in contract of Vessel Traffic and Port Management System (VTPMS), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Crime personnel said former Chief Nautical Officer (CNO) of the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) had signed a completion certificate for Aatash Norcontrol Limited (ANL), on which he had no authority.
Captain (retired) Sandeep Chandra Mathur, the CNO in 2010, signed a certificate of completion for setting up nine radar centres and a control room at Dumas in Gujarat. It was later found out that no control room was being set up at Dumas and ANL had shown an investment of Rs 134 crore, by procuring fake invoices from shell companies.
Mathur was arrested from Ahmedabad airport on Saturday by a team of CID Crime. Along with Mathur, five others, including an official of GMB, two directors of ANL and two owners of shell companies were arrested in the alleged scam.
“The certificate of completion is supposed to be signed by Harshad Rajgopal, superintendent mechanical engineer of GMB, after thorough inspection of the proposed project at Dumas. However, we found that along with accused Harshad Rajgopal, the CNO had signed on the certificate on which he had no authority. Now, we are investigating if the retired official received any monetary favours for signing the COC. The ANL never set up any control room or radar centres,” said AA Saiyyed, investigating officer and deputy superintendent of police, CID Crime. Police said that Mathur was also facing a department inquiry in GMB regarding extending favours to ANL and signing COC.
Aatash Norcontrol Ltd is a joint venture company between Ahmedabad-based Aatash Group and Norway-based Kongsberg. The firm was in charge of the VTPMS project in Gulf of Khambhat, which included ports like Ghogha, Dahej, Magdalla, Mahuva, Jafrabad and Hazira, many of which have sensitive installations.
The company commenced operations after it received commencement certificate from GMB in 2010. According to police, the ANL management was planning to siphon off Rs 4,732 crore till 2039 through illegal means. Police said, ANL conspired with GMB officials to misappropriate around Rs 134.38 crore from the state’s exchequer from 2015-16 to 2018-19 through the VTPMS project that was granted to ANL in 2007.
Till now, police have arrested former CNO Sandeep Chandra Mathur, Jinofer Bhujwala, chairman and managing director of ANL, Zubin Bhujwala, director of ANL, Harshad Rajgopal, superintendent mechanical engineer of GMB, and Sudarshan Sharma and Rekha Sharma, who are running shell companies to launder money for ANL. All accused have been booked for fraud and forgery under the Anti-Corruption Act.
Another accused, Chetan Dalwadi, one of the directors of shell company, Chardham Development Limited, is absconding at the moment. “Chetan signed on fake invoices of Rs 5.86 crore for ANL regarding the project at Dumas. In reality, there was no goods purchased or work contract given to Chardham company,” said Saiyyed.