Reliance Slides as India Widens Probe Into Theft of FilesKartikay Mehrotra and Debjit Chakraborty
Police in India arrested seven people for the alleged theft of files from the nation’s energy ministries and said they’ll probe several companies that emerged as benefiting from seeing the documents.
The men were detained in New Delhi after a night-time police sting operation at the Oil Ministry on Feb. 17 detected the theft. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. slid more than 3 percent today following a Press Trust of India report that one of the oil refiner’s employees had been detained yesterday. Reliance spokesman Tushar Pania declined to comment.
“The stolen documents were sold at various prices,” Sunil Kumar, a police investigating officer, said in New Delhi today after bringing the accused to court. “Investigations will continue to find out all those who are involved.”
Police have said the arrested men faked identification cards, used duplicate keys and disabled CCTV cameras to obtain the files. Allegations of graft and crime have long shadowed Indian officialdom, including past scandals over the sale of airwaves and the allocation of coal mines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in May last year partly on a vow to fight corruption and make civil servants more efficient.
Reliance Industries, operator of the world’s biggest oil refining complex, slumped 3.2 percent at the close in Mumbai today, the most in the S&P BSE Sensex equity index. The company is locked in a dispute with the government over extraction levels from natural gas deposits off India’s east coast.
Two energy consultants are among the seven arrested, Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said today. Officers have also found documents leaked from the coal and power ministries. They haven’t publicly named the companies they suspect benefited.
“We’re waiting for the investigations to complete,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in New Delhi today.
Some of the men detained are current or former employees at Shastri Bhawan, the buildings that house government departments including the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, according to a police statement issued late on Thursday.
A car with an unauthorized sign declaring that the vehicle belonged to the government of India was also seized. Officers raided a “few corporate houses,” the Times of India newspaper reported Thursday, without saying where it got the information.