Budgetgate: Inputs for Budget speech recovered from the arrested

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India Oil Espionage

New Delhi: In shocking revelations in the corporate espionage episode, the Delhi police on Friday told the court it has recovered classified documents that were to be included in Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech.

This shows that corporate lobbies had access to top-secret documents of the country, which have wider economic implications, they said. Sources said the police has also recovered important documents related to various other ministries, including power and coal.

There were unconfirmed reports of bug sweeps being conducted in government offices as well. The Delhi police on Friday arrested seven more people, including from Reliance Industries and ADAG, in connection with the case of corporate espionage in the petroleum ministry, taking the total number of arrests to 12.

Two of the seven people — Santanu Saikia, a former journalist now running a Web portal on petroleum issues and Prayas Jain, who runs an independent energy consultancy firm — were arrested on Friday afternoon.

Five senior executives from top energy firms and two consultants were among seven more people arrested on Friday in the sensational corporate espionage scandal in which classified documents were allegedly leaked. With this, the total number of arrests in the case rose to 12.

Late in the night on Friday, the police arrested Reliance Industries manager (corporate affairs) Shailesh Saxena, Reliance ADAG DGM Rishi Anand, Essar DGM Vinay, Cairn India DGM K.K. Naik, and Subhash Chandra, a senior executive in Jubilant Energy.

More people from corporate houses are likely to be called for questioning and a few arrests are likely to be made soon, said sources. The Delhi police also carried out raids at the offices of some corporate houses.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power issued a statement saying it was not aware of the circumstances in which one of its “junior employees” has allegedly been arrested. “We will ensure full cooperation with the investigative agencies. The company adheres to the highest standards of corporate governance, and does not support any unlawful practices,” said the company.

Police said Mr. Saikia and Mr. Jain were alleged recipients of stolen secret documents. Delhi police commissioner B. S. Bassi said,“…Both of them are some sort of independent consultants. One of them (Saikia) runs a website where he would run his analyses and people would subscribe to it. These two have been arrested.”

According to the FIR, photocopies of documents with headings “Input material on National Gas Grid for inclusion in Finance Minister’s Budget speech 2015-16” were recovered from the possession of accused Lalta Prasad.

“The documents have to be examined in consultation with specific officials and ministries concerned so that we can know about their security classification. Only then can we say if this falls in the purview of the Official Secrets Act,” said Mr Bassi.

The FIR said that these documents were found in a black bag concealed in a white cloth and a brown envelope. Four ministry of home affairs temporary passes, issued on different dates, one identity card of the audit department, defence services, and one I-Card of Lok Jagriti Patrika were also recovered from Lalta and Rakesh’s possession.

The police revealed, it has come to the fore that the arrested MTS employees would charge the energy consultants Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 for each document, and that these papers were then sold at a much higher rate, allegedly to top corporate companies.

Sources added that the highest bidder was given the classified documents. The arrested persons were produced before chief metropolitan magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal, who remanded Lalta Prasad, Rajesh Kumar, Prayas Jain and Santanu Saikia in police custody till February 23 after the police said “sensitive” documents had been recovered. Three other accused — Ishwar Singh, Asharam and Rajkumar Chaubey — the police said were not required for custodial interrogation so they be remanded in judicial custody.

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