CBI summons RIL official, noted CA in documents leak case

CBI summons RIL official, noted CA in documents leak case

The case of leakage of classified documents from government offices seems to be getting murkier as the CBI has now summoned a senior official of Reliance Industries Limited and a noted chartered accountant who is on the board of several big corporate and government bodies.

In a related development, CBI arrested one Daljeet Singh, posted as Upper Division Clerk with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under Commerce Ministry as the agency has found documents pertaining to foreign investments in HDFC Bank Limited and a pharma company Glenmark Pharmaceuticals also having been leaked.

Both HDFC Bank and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals have denied the allegations.
A senior CBI official said that it was a well-flourishing racket that was being operated out of the national capital with deals being fixed mostly in country's financial capital Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The Government has given a go ahead to the agency in plugging all leakages from the government offices and nab all culprits.

The RIL official based in Mumbai was allegedly in regular touch with Khemchand Gandhi, who was providing him with confidential documents from Commerce Ministry and Finance Ministry on the foreign investment policies, CBI sources said.

RIL did not respond to PTI queries seeking their commments on the development.
The sources said the agency has also summoned Rajendra Chitale, partner of Chitale and Associates.

His partner Paresh was arrested by CBI red handed on Friday while allegedly trying to destroy troves of confidential government documents stashed in his office.

52-year old Chitale, a Chartered Accountant, has been on the board of several big finance companies in private sector as well as big PSUs and Government bodies.

The agency has recovered huge cache of documents in hard copy as well as electronic documents relating to several files on foreign investment proposals of Jet-Etihad deal, HDFC Bank, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals besides among others.

CBI sources said they have recovered file notings related to FIPB proposal of HDFC bank which was cleared last year after being rejected initially.

In 2013, HDFC Bank had approached the FIPB for increasing the foreign holding in the bank to 67.55 per cent from 49 per cent. However, the proposal was not cleared by the FIPB as the Finance and Industry ministry was of the view that the parent HDFC Ltd's 22 per cent holding in the bank is FDI.

Following clarification sought by FIPB in 2014 the Bank had sent a revised proposal raising its foreign holding ceiling request to 74 per cent.

"We categorically deny having known or heard of, let alone interacted with the individual named in these news reports. Any suggestion that we may have indulged in any wrongdoing is completely baseless and untrue," HDFC Bank had said in a statement.

The bank further said that these allegations, apart from being baseless and untrue, are "defamatory" and an attempt to malign the reputation of HDFC Bank...We have always adhered to the highest standards of integrity and propriety in our business conduct, and will continue to do so in the future," it had added.

CBI has also examined a Delhi-based official of consultancy firm PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) who was allegedly getting documents from Gandhi.

The sources said it has also surfaced during the probe that allegedly he was not only getting documents related to his clients, having foreign investment interests, but also related to other corporates.

These corporate were either rivals to its clients or the PwC was seeing them as future clients, an official said.

They said the official who was a mid-ranking executive was called to the office here and grilled over his alleged links with Gandhi and mails which were exchanged with him.

The company said in a statement, "Our manager met CBI officials today in connection with the FIPB applications filed by our clients and the official communication that we have exchanged with FIPB in this regard, in the normal course of business. Necessary clarification as asked for were provided." 

The sources said during questioning of suspects arrested by the agency and phone intercepts available with it, it has emerged that the Rs 2,058 crore Jet-Etihad deal was one of the many crucial deals whose records were leaked to middlemen.

They said it has come to light that right from the proposal stage to the final documents of the deal, which could materialise after the FDI limit in aviation sector was raised from 26 to 49 per cent, records were being regularly leaked from the Finance Ministry.

The sources said most of the communication between Finance Ministry, including file notings from very top levels in the ministry, were allegedly leaked.

Earlier, CBI had said that "first and second level of decision making in the Finance Ministry were compromised", but now the agency sources said that probe may bring into scanner officials above these levels.

In connection with leak of confidential documents, CBI has so far arrested six persons including an Under Secretary in the Department of Disinvestment and Grievances Ashok Kumar Singh, Assistant in FIPB section Ram Niwas, Section Officer in the Department of Economic Affairs Lala Ram Sharma, Mumbai based Chartered Accountant Khemchand Gandhi and Paresh Chimanlal Buddhadeb, a partner in Chitale and Associates.

It is alleged that the government servants were passing on documents related to foreign investment policies, which were being floated in the ministries, to Gandhi, who in turn passed them on to big corporates for a price. 

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