The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has unearthed evidence of alleged kickbacks of $21.6 million (Rs 100 crore) and Rs 3.33 crore by a Russian company, Technopromoexport (TPE), to Indian agents to secure a Rs 2,066 crore power project contract.
Following the revelation, the ministries of power and external affairs have recommended termination of the contract, citing “fraudulent practice” and “delay in execution”. They made this suggestion in a November 18 note to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
The 2005 contract is for the supply of power equipment to NTPC’s 1,980 mega watt “supercritical thermal power project” in Barh, Bihar.
“The investigation revealed that… TPE paid illegal commission of $21.6 million (Rs 100 crore, or 5.3 per cent of the contract amount) and Rs 3.33 crore to Ravina and Associates Pvt Ltd (RAPL),” a CBI communication to NTPC said. The payments were made by TPE to RAPL for providing “agent services” to win the contract, it said.
“The CBI report is very clear that TPE paid illegal gratification to unknown officials of NTPC and others through their Indian agents to win this contract, thereby violating the contract and breaking the law of the land,” the Ministry of External Affairs noted in its comment to the CCS note.
“I don’t want to comment on anything,” said Alexander V. Schegolev, director, TPE. “TPE has done everything as per the terms and conditions of its contract with NTPC.”
The NTPC board has approved termination of this contract, a company official told HT. “We’ll take action,” said NTPC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma.
This project has been diplomatic power-play since 2006, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussing it in their December 2008 meeting.
In July this year, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan asked the two ministries to bring out details of “how the Russian side raised this matter at the political level… at various bilateral meetings”.