Corporate espionage: How the petroleum ministry was outsmarted

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The Delhi Police probing the corporate espionage case have found that information regarding government policies were leaked out of the ministry even before they were formulated!

The accused persons knew about every loophole in the petroleum ministry and used it to their advantage while incorporating the scam, Delhi police officials told Oneindia.


The arrest of Lokesh Sharma, an employee with an energy consultancy firm based out of Noida, has thrown up several details regarding the scam.

His father, who used to work as a driver in the petroleum ministry, helped him understand every little loop hole in the ministry which in turn helped him procure documents with ease.

How the accused procured policy decision related documents:

Sharma's father worked as a driver in the petroleum ministry. While speaking with his father he understood the loopholes in the ministry. The Delhi police, however, maintained that there is nothing to suggest that his father was involved.

Sharma managed to get in touch with several officials using his father's name. Moreover, being seen with his father several times also gave him the advantage as he was not doubted. He managed to create fake identification cards for himself and the rest of the accused which ensured they got easy access into the ministry.

Once Sharma managed to get in touch with the officials in the coal and petroleum ministry, he struck deals with them for procuring sensitive documents. Sharma who was appointed by the Noida based energy consultancy firm due to his deep-rooted contacts in the ministry played an important role in this scam, police officials said.

Policy decision related documents from the ministry were a major draw for the corporate houses. They paid the highest amount of money for such documents. What has been found during the probe is that the accused had smuggled out policy related documents even before they were formulated.

He had built up contacts with the staff who had to multi task within the ministry. These persons who would multi task had various jobs to play in the ministry right from attending a meeting, making notes and also filing the documents.

For these persons such staff were the best bet as they had access to most of the information in the ministry. Right from hefty documents to a chit with information on it would be passed on to Sharma and his accomplices.

Was Sharma a pawn?

Investigations have found that Sharma was on the lower rung of the network. He worked on the instructions of his seniors which included the bosses in the energy consultancy firm. Sharma was chosen because he had become a familiar face in the ministry as his father was employed there.

The energy consultancy firm that he worked for published a magazine which had news regarding the petroleum and coal ministries. He had an identification card for this magazine and he would use it to get into the ministry.

When asked about his visit, he would say that he is collecting the content that is to be published in the magazine. While on one hand he would pick up the normal press releases on the other he would get the important documents meant to be leaked as well.

After laying his hands on the documents, he would return to the office in Noida and pass it on to his bosses. They in turn would call the corporates and fix a meeting to decide on the price. Before fixing the meeting, Lokesh would meet the officials in the corporate office and hand over the documents. Once scrutinized the corporates would call for a meeting and then decide on the price.

Stringent measures to be taken in the ministry:

Meanwhile the petroleum ministry would review the entire security set up in its offices. They have decided to install more close circuit televisions in the offices to monitor every movement. The number of CCTV's at present is not sufficient as several corridors are not monitored.

The Delhi police on the other hand are still undecided whether to go ahead and slap the provisions available under the Official Secrets Act in this case. While the Delhi police are contemplating slapping the OSA in this case, they would still need to prove how the actions of these accused persons has affected national security, an important mandate under this act.

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