The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sought the permission of the Union Finance Ministry to probe the alleged role of the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Petroleum Limited (RPL) in securing three oil contracts from the Saddam Hussain regime in Iraq by making extra payments.
Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reser-ve who probed irregularities in the UN’s oil-for-food programme in Iraq between 2001 and 2003, named RPL as a “non-contractual beneficiary” in the report he submitted to the UN Secretary General in 2005.
According to the report, a surcharge of over $3.5 million (nearly Rs 17 crore) was paid in respect of three contracts to an Iraqi account maintained with the Jordan National Bank through wire transfers from the First National Bank in Lebanon.
“Three oil contracts were originally allocated to RPL. Hence, the payment over and above the actual value of oil lifted by RPL, or on their behalf by some other person/entity, to the Iraqi authorities without the permission of the RBI can’t be ruled out,” the ED wrote to the ministry last month.
Reliance Industries, the flagship company of the Mukesh Ambani group, has denied any wrongdoing and said it has provided “necessary information and extended cooperation to authorities investigating the role of Indian entities mentioned in the report”. An RIL spokesperson said: “We have not violated any rules laid down by RBI or FEMA.”