India Suspends ONGC Contract Director for Tender Misconduct

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest explorer, suspended director and board member Shashi Shanker after the federal government said he committed “gross misconduct” while handling a procurement tender.

Shanker, whose responsibilities included awarding contracts for rigs and oilfield services, committed misconduct with a tender to procure 21 blowout preventers, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said in a statement today in New Delhi.

He may face “disciplinary proceedings,” ONGC said in a stock exchange filing. The state-owned explorer was informed by the nation’s oil ministry about the possible action on Feb. 23, according to the statement. The company didn’t disclose more information.

Shanker didn’t answer three calls to his mobile phone. ONGC Chairman Dinesh Kumar Sarraf didn’t answer two calls.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept into power last May partly on a pledge to fight corruption. Police in Delhi last week arrested 12 people, including five from oil companies run by some of India’s richest men, in an investigation of leaked secret documents from the oil ministry.

That probe has widened to the coal and power ministries with two more arrests in the past two days.

Modi’s party lost elections in Delhi state this month to the Aam Aadmi Party, a two-year-old organization led by an anti-graft activist.

Shanker was appointed director of technical and field services with a position on ONGC’s board on Dec. 1, 2012.

Suspensions at the top level at state-run companies have occurred in the past. India’s mines ministry suspended A.K. Srivastava from his duties as chairman and managing director of National Aluminium Co. following an investigation by the nation’s Central Bureau of Investigation in February 2011.

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