Defence Ministry staff held in corporate espionage case

A casual worker in the Defence Ministry has been arrested for allegedly providing forged identity card to a key accused in Petroleum Ministry leaks case but the Delhi Police says it has not come across loss of documents from Defence Ministry.

Defence Ministry staff held in corporate espionage case

New Delhi: A casual worker in the Defence Ministry has been arrested for allegedly providing forged identity card to a key accused in Petroleum Ministry leaks case but the Delhi Police says it has not come across loss of documents from Defence Ministry.

With the arrest of Defence Ministry staffer Virendra Kumar (33), 13 people have been so far arrested in the corporate espionage case related to the Petroleum Ministry.

One person was arrested yesterday on the charge of leaking confidential documents from Coal and Power ministries.

Seven persons, who were detained for questioning yesterday, were called for examination again today which continued till late evening.

They were identified as Lalbabu, Ranjeet Mahto, both of them from the Coal Ministry, while Bhupendra, Amit, Kamal Kishor, Virendra and Surendra are from the Petroleum Ministry. Meanwhile, raids continued across Delhi and NCR by the police.

Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi told reporters that police has so far not come across any evidence that senior officials of any ministry were involved.

He also said that investigators have so far only come across "leakage and theft of documents from Petroleum, Power and Coal Ministry and not from any other department".

"Investigation so far has revealed that the people who used to procure government documents used to rely on the employees who are the lowest on the ladder. They used to tell them that this person is the target and bring all the documents you find in his office.”

"They used to identify the document of their choice from the bunch. So far, we have not come across the name of any senior officer and neither have we had any evidence relying on which we can say so," said Bassi.

Asked whether police will question senior officials of the security agencies responsible for safekeeping of the government buildings which house these ministries as how can CCTV cameras be shut down for the period of theft and those monitoring it did not come to know, Bassi said, "We have no reason so far to suspect them or question them."

Police said Virender Kumar, working as a casual worker with Ministry of Defence, L-Block since 2010, had provided the forged Identity card used by the main accused Lalta Prasad.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said Kumar had also provided Prasad blank official letterheads for preparing forged letters which were used to project that their vehicle No DL13C-4734 was hired to perform official duties of Director of Audit Defence Services.

It was also to project that a contract was signed with M/s Dharam Singh Travel Agency by Office of the Director General of Audit, Defence Services, L-II Block, Brassey Avenue, New Delhi to this effect, he said.

It was Ram Kumar Chaubey who had prepared the fake permission of his vehicle and projected it as being hired by the Government of India, he said.

However, he added, "no sensitive document has been stolen from the Defence Ministry".

Lalta Parsad and Ram Kumar Chaubey were first to be arrested in the case when the Crime Branch blew the lid on February 19.

Virendra Kumar was arrested today in connection with the first FIR registered by Delhi Police.

This module stole documents from the Petroleum Ministry.

Police had yesterday arrested one man Lokesh Sharma and registered a second FIR as this was a different module which operated in power and coal ministry. He was produced before a local court here today which sent him to one-day police custody. Sources said that police was hot on the heels on at least two of Lokesh's associates, including a woman. Five people have been named in the second FIR out of which Santanu Saikia, Prayas Jain and Lokesh are already in custody while two others are on the run.

"Lokesh was involved in the business since the last eight. The woman identified as Sonam Gupta worked in Lokesh's firm used to email the stolen documents to clients. The other accused is the manager of another consultancy firm based in West Delhi's Janakpuri, who was Lokesh's client," said an official associated with the investigation.

However, some of the big players in the game, who had been operating for 10 to 15 years, have gone underground given the media hype this case has got. Investigators also fear that a lot of evidence might also have been destroyed by now, said sources.

Cracking down on a suspected case of corporate espionage, the Delhi Police on Thursday arrested two junior Oil Ministry officials and three other middlemen for allegedly leaking classified government documents to energy companies.

On Friday last, two energy consultants Santanu Saikia and Prayas Jain and five senior executives from top energy firms identified as Shailesh Saxena from RIL, Vinay Kumar from Essar, KK Naik from Cairns, Subhash Chandra from Jubilant Energy and Rishi Anand from ADAG Reliance were arrested. 

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