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Modi government cracks down on ‘document leak’: top oil firms, middlemen under scanner

Five arrested including an RIL man and two Petroleum Ministry employees, more arrests likely.

By: Press Trust of India Written by Ananya Bhardwaj , Sandeep Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: February 20, 2015 8:20:44 am
Petroleum Ministry The two Petroleum Ministry employees allegedly used to provide confidential information to private companies in return for money.

Executives of at least four leading energy firms, two consultancy companies and a dozen others are being questioned for their alleged involvement in leak of official documents from the Petroleum Ministry, Delhi Police said Thursday. The sweep follows the arrest of five men including two government employees.

Staffers sold documents to consultancies who processed them for corporates: Police

Police sources said executives of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), Essar Group and Cairn India were being questioned and searches were being conducted at several places. A senior journalist was among those called in for questioning at the inter-state cell of the police crime branch in Chanakyapuri.

Police Commissioner B S Bassi said official documents were photocopied and leaked in return for money and investigators would soon apprehend the recipients of the papers.

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“Confidential documents were leaked to certain independent consultants and energy companies, some of whom are being interrogated. We have registered a case under relevant sections of the IPC. We will analyse the documents that we have recovered and see if the Official Secrets Act needs to be invoked. The nature of the documents is being studied. We have also identified recipients of these documents. More arrests are likely,” Bassi said.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said strong action would be taken against two employees of his ministry who were arrested by police. Sources said the questioning of those arrested also revealed the possible involvement of a senior official.

READ: Reliance Industries say leaked info has no commercial value, launch internal probe

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“They will be dealt with severely. Police are probing the case. We will take strong action against the guilty. The government will come down hard on them,” Pradhan said. Asked whether any corporate lobbyist could be involved, he said it was for the police to investigate. “The government was conscious. Agencies are investigating. They will come out with full facts,” he said.

The police crime branch made the arrests after the ministry was put under surveillance following a break-in at the office of a director-level official almost a month ago.

According to police, Asharam (58) and Ishwar Singh (56), both employed as multi-tasking staff at Shastri Bhawan, passed documents to Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar, both brothers who had worked temporarily for the ministry until 2012.

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Police sources said Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar, after leaving Shastri Bhawan in a car which had a government parking sticker, would pass on the documents to two consultancy firms — one headed by a senior journalist.

These two consultants would “process, analyse and make notes” before turning over the documents to interested parties, including energy firms, police sources said, adding that sums ranging between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 would be paid each month to the five who have been arrested — the fifth man in the police net is the driver of the vehicle that would slip in and out of Shastri Bhawan.

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First published on: 20-02-2015 at 12:03:40 am
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