New Delhi, Feb 21: Lobbyists, journalists, corporates, money and muscle power- The corporate espionage case has all the makings of a pot boiler. As the number of arrests went up to 12, the Delhi police is unearthing several more details about this case.
This case goes on to show the reliance that the corporates had on the middle men or the energy consultation firms. These firms were roped in only to avoid a direct contact between the corporates and the officials in the ministry.
The role of journalists:
For some journalists setting up of energy consultancy firms had become a lucrative business. An Intelligence Bureau official informed OneIndia that such portals had sprung up only with an intention of acting an go in betweens.
Journalists who build their contacts over the years while covering various beats come out of the profession and set up portals. Most of these portals do not necessarily do well and instead they act as fronts to mediate between ministry officials and the corporates.
An officer with the Delhi Crime Branch says that the portals are opened up so that they can use it as an excuse to enter into a ministry. With a portal they carry the Press Tag along with them and this gets them access into the ministry.
What one would find on these portals are regular press releases and this is published only to show that they have a site that is running. With the help of these portals they get a press card which in turn grants them access into the ministry.
In the instant case it was found that some persons had entered into the ministry spoke with some officials, procured documents and passed it on to the corporates.
Laying the trap:
The petroleum ministry first got wind of such a scam in the month of December 2014. There was a classified document lying near the photo copier machine. The person who had photo copied several documents had left behind one particular classified document.
The ministry immediately informed the NSA about the incident. The Intelligence Bureau was roped in and hence began the surveillance. The IB kept a watch on the activities within the ministry for nearly 45 days.
It was found that three persons regularly visited the ministry. They had fake identification cards and their Tata Indica car also had a fake sticker. Two persons entered into the ministry while one waited in the car.
It was also found that officials within the ministry would turn off the CCTVs when these men entered into the building.
After watching them closely for several days and when it was confirmed that they were stealing documents, the police were called in and the arrests carried out.
The case of 1998 and change in strategy:
In the year 1998 one corporate lobbyist Balasubramaniam had managed to access files with the help of his contacts within several ministries. He was charged under the Officials Secrets Act.
His questioning led to the CBI finding his direct involvement with corporates. The corporates in turn decided to change their strategy and chose not to send in their men directly into ministries.
This led to the emergence of consultancy firms. The corporates ensured that information kept pouring in from the ministry. There was no direct contact between the corporates and the ministry officials.
The role of these consultancy firms has come severely under the scanner now. There are such consultancy firms found in the energy, power, telecom and also the civil aviation sector.