Oil Espionage Scam: Major Happenings and Implications

Oil Espionage Scam: Major Happenings and Implications

Q. “The oil espionage involving major corporate groups is a bigger scam encompassing other sectors as well.” Discuss in light of recent happenings.

Oil Espionage: Chief Happenings

• Officials of RIL/Reliance Industries Ltd, Reliance ADAG, Essar and Cairns have been arrested
• Corporate espionage has far reaching impact
• Corporate employees arrested so far include:
- Shailesh Saxena: RIL
- Vinay Kumar: Essar
- K. K. Naik: Cairns
- Subhash Chandra: Jubilant Energy
- Rishi Anand: Reliance ADAG
- Former journalist Santanu Saikia
- Prayas Jain: Energy Consultant

• Confidential documents including the Budget details were also leaked in the operation
• 3 diaries have been recovered from the accused persons; crime branch indicates accused were in possession of papers from other departments and ministries as well
• Delhi court has sentenced 4 of the 7 accused to police custody till February 23rd
• Saikia and Jain have been accused of purchasing leaked documents, analysing them and selling them to business houses
• Corporate involvement in stealing official and classified documents from different ministries and supply of the same to: Business Houses, Think Tanks, Lobbyists
• IB tailed these persons and tipped the police.
• Documents include international communications on important commercial decisions with billions of dollars at stake
• Papers were allegedly used to trade in national and international markets

Manner of Operation

• IDs and entry passes to Shastri Bhawan had been forged
• Ministry offices were entered after office hours and CCTVs were disabled and duplicate keys were used to access papers
• Papers were photocopied or stolen as per the demand
• Price charged for each document ranged from INR 5000 to 10,000; more was charged for papers that were difficult to obtain
• Minutes of meetings, orders, communiques and proposals
• 3,500 documents have been seized involving petrol, power, coal, finance and defence ministries

It is being investigated that:

• Who authorised purchase of government documents?
• How many senior management officials knew about this?
• Under what head were funds for purchasing these documents made?
• Who granted permission to mid-level officials for making the purchase?

FIR indicates following secret documents have been stolen:

• Input material on national gas grid for inclusion in FM’s budget
• Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas reply on Naresh Chand’s letter forwarded by PMO
• Monthly gas report December 2014 of February 16, 2015 signed by Atreyee Das, Director General Petroleum Planning and Analysis cell
• Brief on more opportunities in Sri Lanka of February 4, 2015
• Urgent meeting notice at February 13, 2015
• Background note on performance of Upstream Sector and Exploration Division documents signed by Deputy Secretary Nalin Kumar Srivastava
• Other important documents revealing important figures pre-signed by the government officials


• Companies possibly received undue advantages through understanding of future moves of the government in numerous court cases and matters relating to fuel subsidies, gas exploration and other such operational matters
• Tighter security has now been enforced in government offices following the scam
• Government will now install CCTVs in corridors of ministries where sensitive information/data are stored including: Home, Defence, Telecom, Finance, Power, Coal, Environment, Petroleum
• Entry into public offices after working hours will also be banned
• Energy companies have received the message that corporate interests will not be able to hurt national or public interest
• Nexus between corporates and government not to be allowed; corporates get the message to clean up their acts and not engage in scams
• Emphasis on a new way of doing business that promotes transparency and accountability


Scams have become a way of functioning for many sectors in India now. The oil espionage case is worth INR 10,000 crore or more and it is clearly one of the largest scams in corporate history. There are lessons for corporate India to be learned regarding the virtue of functioning in a manner that promotes transparency and ethical business practices.
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