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Corporate espionage case: Budget documents, letter related to PMO among recoveries; 12 arrested

The sensational Petroleum Ministry document leakage case got murkier on Friday when it was revealed that what was thought to have been a racket confined to the Petroleum Ministry, actually covered matters in finance, coal and power ministries.


Corporate espionage case: Budget documents, letter related to PMO among recoveries; 12 arrested

New Delhi: The sensational Petroleum Ministry document leakage case got murkier on Friday when it was revealed that what was thought to have been a racket confined to the Petroleum Ministry, actually covered matters in finance, coal and power ministries.

It was also revealed that confidential documents, including an input for the upcoming Finance Minister's budget speech, were allegedly leaked in the whole operation.

In total, 12 people, including a former journalist, an energy consultant and officials of corporate entities, have been arrested.

As per the complaint registered by police, the papers stolen included inputs for the forthcoming union budget and a letter relating to the PMO. 

After Thursday's arrest of five people, including two Oil Ministry staffers and three middlemen, two energy consultants -- Santanu Saikia, a former journalist, now running a petro web portal and Prayas Jain--were arrested on Friday morning as they were suspected to be receivers of the stolen documents.

Police later in the evening arrested five senior officials of corporate entities.

Those arrested were RIL corporate affairs manager Shailesh Saxena, Jubilant Energy senior executive Subash Chandra, Reliance ADAG DGM Rishi Anand, Essar DGM Vinay and Cairns India GM KK Naik.

They said the five executives were booked under sections dealing with criminal conspiracy and use of stolen property.

The case FIR, produced in a local court, said an input on the National Gas Grid for the Finance Minister's budget speech of 2015-16 is among the various "secret" documents recovered from the accused.

Besides, police has also recovered a letter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra, according to the FIR in the case presented to Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal, who heard the proceedings for remand of the accused.

"Photocopy of documents with heading input material on National Gas Grid for inclusion in Finance Minister's budget speech 2015-16," the crime branch has said in its FIR filed in the case.

Sources said the ministry was first alerted about the theft of official documents some months ago when some critical documents with the then Joint Secretary (Exploration) Giridhar Armane, were found in a photocopier machine when rooms were opened in the morning. The ministry internally probed the issue.

The door of Director Prashant S Lokhande was found compromised about two months back following which the ministry ordered a through investigation and CCTV cameras were installed.

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said he wants the guilty to be brought to book and would comment only after the investigation is complete. "Let the investigation be over. No one will be spared," he said.

Sources said the accused allegedly used fake ID cards to gain access to Shastri Bhawan, the building that houses the Petroleum Ministry, in the middle of the night.

They would allegedly use the duplicate keys to open rooms of senior officials and photocopy secret official documents for sale to corporates and consultancy firms.

The rooms that they had alleged accessed to steal official documents included rooms of Special Secretary Rajive Kumar, Joint Secretary (Refineries) Sandeep Poundrik, Joint Secretary (Exploration) U P Singh and Director (Exploration-1) Nalin Kumar Srivastava among others.

Sources said the locks of all the rooms are being changed and security and vigilance enhanced.

The Delhi Police had on Thursday arrested five people - two Petroleum Ministry employees and three others - for stealing documents and leaking them to corporate houses.

Rakesh Kumar, 30, Lalta Prasad, 36 - both brothers and residents of Delhi, and Raj Kumar Chaubey, 39, a resident of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, were held red-handed with photocopies of some secret documents in Shastri Bhawan on February 17.

Based on information provided by them, government employees Asharam, 58, and Ishwar Singh, 56 were also arrested. They were part of the multi-tasking staff (MTS) in Shastri Bhawan.

Police said Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar were on the payroll of Jain and he used to pay them Rs 40,000 each per month.

(With Agency inputs)

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