A mysterious fire gutted "assets" at the office of energy consultant Prayas Jain who has been arrested for allegedly buying stolen secret documents of the oil ministry.
A day after the arrest of its chief executive, Jain, in the corporate espionage scam, Metis Energy on February 19 sent an email to its clients, saying the daily newsletter on happenings in oil and gas and power sectors will not be delivered for next one week because of a "fire" at its office.
"Unfortunately a massive fire had broken out at our business premise yesterday (February 18). We were able to get hold of it, however, considerable damage has been caused to the building and assets inside," the email said.
The email was sent by Sonam Gupta. Gupta is listed as the contact person for Dashboard, which delivers the daily newsletter to clients via email, on the Metis Energy website. Gupta could not be contacted as her mobile phone was switched off and office phones listed on the Metis website were either disconnected or went unanswered.
Jain was arrested along with former journalist Santanu Saikia on February 18 for allegedly buying stolen government files from a gang of five people that included two junior oil ministry officials.
Besides these seven, five executives of Reliance Industries, Essar Group, Cairn India, Jubilant Energy and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group too have been arrested.
Prior to starting Metis in May 2009, Jain worked as manager — business development at Infraline Energy, another Metis-type market intelligence and sector specific news provider.
Saikia heads Indianpetro.com, a similar industry newsletter. While no one associated with Infraline has so far been detained by the police, the website has been removed since the scam broke out.
"Going forward, I regret to inform you that we won't be able to deliver our services for approximately next one week," Metis said in the e-mail to clients. "As a testament to our strive for perfection, we have taken steps to ensure that we begin our seamless services as soon as possible."
Metis described itself as "a basic suite of energy market intelligence, offering the user with latest news and analysis, tenders and project updates" and lists 83 clients on its website.
These clients include Reliance Industries, Tata Projects, Shell, Rolls-Royce, Rio Tinto, Reliance Power, ONGC, NTPC, IOC, ICICI Bank, GAIL, Chevron, Essar and Aditya Birla Group.
"At the outset, please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience you may experience with respect to the Newsletter today (February 19)... We truly respect your deep sense of understanding and therefore, we will be committed to provide you with the best of services," Metis wrote.
The Delhi Police, meanwhile, arrested another petroleum ministry employee on Monday in connection with the alleged theft of official documents.
The crime branch of the Delhi Police also registered another FIR and planned to visit offices of the ministry to investigate the case, television channels reported.
The Anil Ambani-led Reliance group distanced itself from reports of police raids at its offices, saying it was "not aware of the circumstances" leading to the arrest of an employee of the group's power business.