In what could turn out to be a high-profile case of corporate espionage, the Delhi police arrested five people, including two ministry of petroleum and natural gas officials, for stealing sensitive documents from the ministry office at Shastri Bhawan.
Preliminary investigations show that the documents were sold to some private energyconsultants and a few big corporate houses. Police also raided the offices of two leading oil companies in central Delhi, but didn’t specify their names. They have detained an employee of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd.
The leak, police fear, could have been going on for many years and documents could have been used to tweak government policies.
Which are the companies involved?
Delhi police commissioner B S Bassi stated that whosoever is the recipient of ‘stolen property’ would be booked. He refrained from naming any beneficiary corporate house. Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan also didn’t name any company while assuring strict action against the guilty.
How were the guilty arrested?
According to Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of police (crime), said, “On the night of the 17th, three persons came in an Indigo car near Shastri Bhawan. Two of them alighted and went inside the building. After two hours, they came out and entered the car. This is when they were apprehended along with some documents.” They used duplicate keys to access the offices of ministry officials and forged identity cards and fraudulently obtained temporary passes. The car was also spotting an unauthorised signage of Government of India/ Bharat Sarkar.
Who are the arrested?
Three accused have been identified as Lalta Prasad (36), Rakesh Kumar (30), both from Delhi, and Raj Kumar Chaubey (39) from Ghaziabad. On their instance, two accomplices, Ashram (58) and Ishwar Singh (56), who work as multi-tasking staff (MTS) at Shastri Bhawan were also arrested. Prasad and Rakesh, who are brothers, had earlier been temporarily employed as MTS at Shastri Bhawan. In 2012, both left their jobs. Ashram is their father. During their stint at Shastri Bhawan, they realised that they could easily lay hands on official documents.
What are the charges against them?
“As of now, we don’t know the quantum of forgery, but they could be running this racket for years,” Bassi told media. As of now, the crime branch has registered cases under sections 457, 380, 468, 471 and 120 (b) of IPC. Pradhan also assured that stern action would be taken against two employees of his ministry.
Was a journalist also arrested?
“Investigations are going on, and, if needed, a few more arrests may follow,” Bassi added. Police have also questioned a journalist, who was allegedly in possession of some sensitive documents.
What is RIL saying?
RIL said that no information, having commercial consequences to the company, resides in the oil ministry, with which it is in arbitration in several cases. The oil giant said it has launched an “internal probe” into the detention of one of its employees. “It has been brought to our notice that one personnel has been detained by law-enforcement authorities. We are unaware of more details. As per SOP, a robust internal probe is underway,” a company official was quoted by PTI.