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Jung's past stints with energy giant a sore point

india Updated: Feb 12, 2014 21:23 IST
Saikat Datta
Saikat Datta
Hindustan Times
gas price row

Delhi lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung's past association with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries seems to be the latest source of friction between him and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

On Tuesday, Kejriwal ordered the state government's anti-corruption bureau to file FIRs against Reliance Industries and several union ministers for their role in increasing the price of gas from the Krishna-Godavari Basin.

Reliance has rejected the charges and in a formal statement called them "shocking."

Jung, who was the joint secretary (exploration) in the union ministry of petroleum and natural gas, was part of the team that effected the privatisation of the Panna-Mukta oil fields.

The oil fields, originally discovered by ONGC, were leased in February 1994 to a Reliance-led consortium that also had public sector unit ONGC and Enron as members.

Jung was part of the team working under then petroleum minister and old Gandhi-family loyalist Satish Sharma, which helped the privatisation process.

A CBI case that had been registered to probe the privatisation of the oil fields had come to an abrupt end. During hearing on public interest petition in the Delhi High Court, it was revealed that the case diaries of the investigating CBI officer, Y P Singh, had been "lost."

Jung resigned from the IAS soon after and headed to London for an academic stint.

"He was in London where he spent some time before joining Reliance in London to look after its European operations," one of Jung's former IAS colleagues told HT on the condition of anonymity.

Jung later moved to the Asian Development Bank and then returned to Delhi and joined Reliance Global Management Services Ltd. before being selected as the vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia University in the capital.

Several people who were with the petroleum ministry during the dispute between the Ambani brothers over the price of gas told HT that Jung was a member of the team strategising for the elder brother, Mukesh Ambani, in Delhi.

Between February 2005 and December 2006, Jung also served as "advisor to the chairman" of the Reliance-funded think tank Observer Research Foundation in an "honorary capacity." This was confirmed to HT by vice-president ORF Samir Saran in response to an email query.

Jung's association with Reliance or the ORF, interestingly, finds no mention in his biography posted on the lieutenant governor's official website.

It states he was in the IAS and ADB and is an acknowledged expert in the oil sector, but has no reference to his formal and informal role with Reliance.

Several phone calls and emails to Jung's private secretary Vishwendra, information officer Vinod Gupta and principal secretary Nutan Guha Biswas remained unanswered.