Ex-oil min director’s role under lens in Rs 240-cr scam

CBI has registered a case against the senior Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) official, formerly with Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), in a Rs 240-crore scam in which seven private companies were allegedly favoured through under-billing and fake submissions. The role of oil ministry’s former director Swami Singh is also coming under close scrutiny.

CBI sources said the agency has named the then General Manager (Pricing) at GAIL, EVS Rao, for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy with seven private companies — MMS Steel, Saheli Exports, Kaveri Gas, Coromandel Electric Company, Arkay energy, OPG energy and Sai Regency -- to cheat GAIL, causing a loss of over Rs 240 crore to the PSU. After registering the case, CBI had carried out searches at 13 locations in Andhra Pradesh, Noida, New Delhi and Mumbai, from where it seized crucial documents.

The sources said these companies had entered into separate agreements with GAIL in 2000. According to the deal, GAIL had to supply these companies with fixed quota of gas and prices were to be decided by the central government. The sources said these companies were given cheap gas through Administered Price Mechanism (APM), which, according to government’s policy, was meant for the use of power and fertiliser sectors only.

Later, the government had decided that in public interest, all available APM gas would be supplied to only power and fertiliser sector consumers against their existing allocations along with specific end users committed under court orders/ small scale consumers having allocations up to 0.05 MMSCMD at the revised price of Rs 3,200/MSCM.

Rao has given a statement before CBI that this practice of allocation of gas to these seven companies was later on regularised by the oil ministry, but as a dealing officer, he used to send regular reminders to the ministry. But ministry kept the matter pending and later on those files went missing. Incidentally, Swami Singh was in charge of matters when the discrepancies occurred. However, the CBI, according to sources, is going slow in investigating his role in the scam. Singh is presently working with Reliance Industries-promoted Observer Research Foundation.

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