Bangalore, July 9: Bangalore’s link to the UK car-bomb plots is beginning to bite — it has cost at least one BPO two British contracts it was on the verge of sewing up after weeks of negotiations.
A British hotel chain and a defence supplier have backed out at the last minute citing security issues after three former Bangaloreans were named suspects in the failed June 29-30 attacks in London and Glasgow.
One of the deals was worth £7 million (Rs 57 crore) over a two-year term. Negotiations were on for the second involving a similar sum, said the BPO which handles back-end accounting.
Its CEO, who didn’t want the company named, said his senior managers and the UK firms’ representatives had made several visits to each other’s facilities.
A representative of one of these firms, who was in Bangalore, rang the BPO today to say his firm “needs more time” over the contract, which was to be finalised this week. “We’ll get back to you. I don’t think the deal can go through now,” he said.
The other company was to send a team next week, but an employee at a hotel where they were booked said the trip had been “postponed indefinitely”.
“The two companies, particularly the defence company, were paranoid about data security, especially in the light of UK bank customers’ money being stolen with information leaked by Gurgaon and Bangalore-based BPO staff,” the CEO said.
“We reassured them and demonstrated our capabilities, but this car-bomb link came up at the wrong time.”
The fears may stem from the connection between the Nadeem Kashmiri data- leak scandal last year and militancy.
Kashmiri, then an HSBC employee in Bangalore, had allegedly passed on client information to UK contacts who stole Rs 2 crore from 30 accounts. The police believe he was part of a global network that raised funds for terror strikes.
“The UK companies feared that militants might get access to their data. These three Bangaloreans — Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed and Mohammed Haneef — have queered our pitch at a time outsourcing has become a dirty word in the US and Britain,” the CEO said.
“The going could get tough at a time Bangalore no longer seems to hold a price advantage and reverse offshoring has already taken place,” a vice-president of a tech firm said.
A Wipro source said the company hadn’t come across any such issues but wasn’t taking any chances. “Apart from having secure lines, we get staff background checked by an external agency that takes police help and interviews previous employers.”
Britain has already dropped hints it will intensify background checks on Indian professionals entering the country.