Sibal: In the line of fire
New Delhi, July 1: The CBI today registered a case against V.K. Sibal, former director-general of hydrocarbons, for granting favours to a US-based firm engaged in seismic exploration, which resulted in a loss of Rs 400 crore to the government.
An FIR has been lodged against him and seven others. They have been charged with 120B criminal conspiracy and cheating and undue favours to a private firm, the CBI spokesperson said, referring to the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act. The agency has also booked private company GX Technologies and its manager (exploration), Sujata Subramaniam.
It is alleged that officials of DGH had given undue favours to a private company in speculative seismic survey in lieu of personal favours, the official said.
In 2005, a contract was awarded to GX Technologies for conducting a seismic speculative survey on a nomination basis at an exorbitant cost, and this caused a loss of nearly Rs 400 crore to the government, the Central Bureau of Investigation said.
Besides Sibal, the agency has named the then directorate officials — chief geologist D.K. Rawat, manager finance and accounts TSLN Reddy, adviser geophysics S.K. Jain, accounts head K.A. Murli, chief chemist Savinder Gupta and adviser contract Anurit Sahi — in the FIR. The sleuths carried out searches in different parts of the country today.
The CBI had registered a preliminary inquiry in November 2009 following a complaint by the CVC that certain companies were allegedly being favoured by Sibal who was trying to scuttle a probe by the anti-corruption watchdog.
Oil ministry officials said, We have nothing to say on a criminal investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation .
Shares of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) today slumped nearly 4 per cent as nervousness crept into the counter after the CBI searched the residence of former DGH V.K. Sibal.
On the Bombay Stock Exchange, the RIL share ended at Rs 862.15, a drop of Rs 35.45 or 3.95 per cent.
The scrip, which has been underperforming the markets for quite some time now, had in recent sessions staged a rally after sentiments improved because of a drop in global crude prices.
The share had hit a 52-week low of Rs 829 on June 20 after the CAG came down on the oil ministry and the DGH for allegedly favouring RIL by allowing it to double KG-D6 gas field's cost. Reliance has since denied the charge.
The sentiment at the counter was impacted earlier because of the CAG report. The CBI searches at the house of the former DGH chief has now led to the question as to what next, said an analyst who did not wish to be identified.