Petroleum Ministry Officials Allegedly Leaked Classified Documents, 5 Arrested

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New Delhi, India:  Two officials of the Petroleum Ministry are among five people arrested today for allegedly leaking confidential government documents to energy consultants and corporates.

The Delhi Police said 25 people have also been detained for questioning, among them officials of several energy companies. A Reliance Industries official said it had been brought to the company’s notice that one personnel has been detained.

“We are unaware of more details. An internal probe is underway as per our robust internal standards,” the Reliance official said.

Six teams of the Crime Branch carried out raids late on Thursday night across the city and there could be more arrests, the police said.

The confidential information was allegedly shared with corporate houses and had details of policies used for oil exploration, pricing as well as imports. “Preliminary investigations reveal that the information had been obtained by certain independent energy consultants and energy companies,” Delhi Police Chief BS Bassi told reporters on Thursday evening.

Today’s arrests, oil ministry sources said, are aimed at reassuring foreign investors who had grown wary of making presentations in the ministry. Sensitive information was being leaked “within minutes of presentations,” they said.

“I won’t allow espionage in my ministry. Strict action will be taken against those involved,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told NDTV.

Soon after the BJP-led coalition took power in May, sources said, the investigation began into confidential information slipping into the public domain. Sources said it was “common knowledge that documents were leaked but things got out of hand.”

After the ministry reportedly identified possible suspects, the police laid a trap and caught two officials. These men allegedly revealed the names of three more persons.

“They used to enter the ministry using false papers and photocopy or steal documents to sell them to interested people. One of them forged an ID card and also got himself government stickers on his vehicles,” said Mr Bassi.

The five people arrested will be produced in a Delhi court tomorrow.

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