A probe conducted by the Haryana Vigilance Bureau (VB) into the selection of a system integrator for the supply, installation and management of outdoor surveillance system for the police department has indicted an IAS and an IPS officer, besides officials of the Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation (Hartron).
The vigilance probe report, which has been submitted to VB director Sharad Kumar, has recommended action against the IAS and the IPS officer, both of whom were involved in the selection process. Besides, action has also been recommended against Hartron officials. The VB has also recommended forfeiture of the company's bank guarantee of Rs. 5.9 crore.
When contacted, Kumar said he was examining the file. "It does not matter what action the inquiry team has recommended. It has to be finally approved by the VB director," he said. The inquiry report will be sent by the bureau to the chief secretary for further action. While the probe team has completed its job, it is now up to the VB director and the state government to take the matter to a logical conclusion.
The only saving grace for the indicted officers is that no pecuniary loss was caused to the state exchequer as no money was paid by the state government to the selected company for the Rs. 59-crore project.
The vigilance inquiry was initiated on the orders of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in 2011 after the information technology (IT) department found discrepancies in the selection of a purported Germany-based company, M/s LevelOne Communications, perceived to be having an Indian subsidiary, LevelOne Communication India Pvt Ltd, as the system integrator for the project. The project was also put on hold by the government and a Hartron official placed under suspension on the CM's orders.
Hindustan Times, in a series of news reports, had exclusively unravelled the irregularities in the entire process to select a system integrator for supply, installation and management of outdoor surveillance systems for Gurgaon and Faridabad police commissionerates. The VB report, officials said, to a large extent agreed with the findings of the inquiry done by the IT department.
The VB, during investigations, found that an Indian company named LevelOne Communication India Pvt Ltd fraudulently used the name of a purported Germany-based company, LevelOne Communications, to win the bid for the project. The Indian company is run by one Babu Joseph.
A preliminary inquiry conducted by the IT department had found that no company by the name of LevelOne Communication, Germany, existed. Levelone is a brand of Digitial Data Communication GmbH, a company based in Dortmund, Germany.
Joseph, who signed the agreement on behalf of LevelOne with Hartron, had told HT that he owned an Indian company by the name and style of LevelOne Communications (India) Pvt Ltd and was authorised by the German entity to sign the agreement on its behalf as he was a director of the German company. Joseph also said that they were in no way connected with Digital Data Communication (DDC).
Balance sheet papers submitted by LevelOne, however, mention that the LevelOne Communication Group is a 100% subsidiary of Digital Data Communication GmbH, while a certificate issued by the company's chartered accountant says that LevelOne Communications (India) Pvt Ltd is a 100% subsidiary of LevelOne Communication Group, Germany.
Investigations by HT revealed that the information submitted by Joseph's company, LevelOne Communications (India), to the ministry of corporate affairs in form 23 AC carried contradictory details. The information submitted by the company to the ministry categorically stated that LevelOne Communications (India) Pvt Ltd is neither a subsidiary company of any holding company nor has a subsidiary company.
Scanned signatures used
The VB also found during its investigations that the perpetrators used scanned signatures of a DDC representative, Amanda Shu Wen Chen, to forge letters and documents to make a bid of the project. This fact has been ascertained by a forensic examination of the documents.
Chen, under whose name and signatures documents were regularly sent to Hartron on behalf of LevelOne Communications, Germany, had, in a an email sent to Hartron from her DDC (ddcasia.com) domain earlier also refused to acknowledge the letters and documents sent by her, saying that she never signed them. She had also said that LevelOne Communication GmbH did not exist.
In fact, Chen, managing director of DDC, had said in an e-mail to Hartron that Joseph was a distributor of DDC in India and authorised to present the DDC brands LevelOne and Equip. "But we were never involved in this tender nor did we authorise Joseph to bid on behalf of DDC," she wrote in 2011.
Mystery of Wolfgang Kohler
The bureau also uncovered the mystery surrounding the e-mails written by one Wolfgang Kohler to Hartron in which he refuted Chen's e-mail communications and disassociated her from the company. "These e-mails supposed to have been sent by Kohler were actually sent from the IP address of Joseph's residence," vigilance sources said.
Investigations by the IT department had revealed that the internet domain used by Kohler level-one commuincation.com for sending this email was created recently.