After abusing power by granting license to Cyient Ltd as DPIIT Secretary, retired Babu Ramesh Abhishek joins its Board

The recent appointment of Ramesh Abhishek as a director on the board of Cyient Limited has set tongues wagging in the industry as well as bureaucratic circles

The recent appointment of Ramesh Abhishek as a director on the board of Cyient Limited has set tongues wagging in the industry as well as bureaucratic circles
The recent appointment of Ramesh Abhishek as a director on the board of Cyient Limited has set tongues wagging in the industry as well as bureaucratic circles

A clear case of quid pro quo to launder bribes pocketed while in service

The recent appointment of Ramesh Abhishek, the controversial former IAS officer as a director on the board of Cyient Limited, the Hyderabad based global digital engineering company, has set tongues wagging in the industry as well as bureaucratic circles as the development is being seen as a blatant case of corruption and favouritism for favours done while in the civil service[2].

It may be highly unethical but it won’t be surprising if, in the coming days, Abhishek goes on joining the boards of a string of companies he favoured as Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Secretary so that he enjoys all benefits and perks and also gets an opportunity to launder huge bribes he amassed during his tenure, routing them through his daughter, Vanessa‘s law firm, Thinking Legal. His appointment at Cyient is a step in this direction[2].

As Secretary of DPIIT since 2016, Abhishek was tasked to look after important Government initiatives such as Make in India, Start-up India, and Ease of Doing Business.

Cyient Limited appointed Abhishek, the 1982-batch Bihar cadre IAS officer who retired in July 2019 as Secretary, DPIIT on its board as an additional director for a period of three years. The development has raised eyebrows in power corridors since Cyient happens to be the same company whose subsidiary, Cyient Solutions & Systems Private Limited, was in June 2018 granted Industrial License by Abhishek as Secretary, DPIIT[3]. Cyient has a wide industry focus that includes aerospace, defence, healthcare, telecommunications, rail transportation, semiconductor, geospatial, industrial, and energy.

It is a mystery as to how such a controversial retired officer, who miserably failed in reviving the start-up industry as Secretary, is able to maneuver the system and pocket key positions while in service as well as post-retirement[4]. Normally, retired bureaucrats can join a private firm only after a mandatory cooling-off period, post-retirement. It’s not known if Abhishek sought for waiving of the cooling-off period from the DPIIT and whether or not he submitted details about his awarding clearances to Cyient as Secretary, DPIIT.

As Secretary of DPIIT since 2016, Abhishek was tasked to look after important Government initiatives such as Make in India, Start-up India, and Ease of Doing Business. However, his tenure at DPIIT got embroiled in controversies of favouritism to start-ups seeking permissions amidst allegations that they were forced to come through his daughter Vanessa’s firm[5].

Many companies then sought her services as a consultant for processing their applications for various licenses under the Startup programme. Only those firms that were ‘facilitated’ by her firm were said to be given necessary permissions. Even Rothschild had appointed Thinking Legal as an advisor for a fee of a whopping Rs 2 crores which were believed to be a ‘legal’ bribe to Abhishek for clearing their proposal. Abhishek seems to have groomed Vaneesa, giving her education and training in corporate law for this very purpose.

Way back in 2013-14, while posted as Chairman of the Forward Markets Commission (FMC), the then regulator of commodities markets, in Mumbai, Abhishek got Vaneesa, a law graduate, inducted into SEBI so that she gains experience and exposure in matters related to regulatory affairs.

USIBC Board appointment

Even Abhishek’s recent appointment to the board of directors of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) has come under a cloud since he was known to ‘favour’ certain US companies seeking investments in India. In fact, his appointment on USIBC is far more serious since the USIBC has strongly lobbied to oppose India’s plans to regulate non-personal data. USIBC is known to represent the lobby of US tech-giants including Angel investment networks many of whom sought Vanessa’s services as a legal advisor before approaching DPIIT[6].

In both cases of Cyient and USIBC, it is a clear cut case of quid pro quo where Abhishek gets back the favours he did to companies by giving them licenses and clearances in the Startup India programme as head of DPIIT. Again, it won’t be a surprise if he has a proxy holding in many of these companies where he gets the coveted position of a board of directors now and the opportunity to launder all the black money he made during his tenure.

If the government digs deeper into Abhishek’s business network, it will end up opening a can of worms and the reasons behind his lucrative appointments post-retirement will no longer remain a secret.

Nepotism?

The Bihar cadre officer is infamous for his ‘services’ to then Bihar Chief Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav, during the fodder scam days and has a chequered past[7]. Way back in 2013-14, while posted as Chairman of the Forward Markets Commission (FMC), the then regulator of commodities markets, in Mumbai, Abhishek got Vaneesa, a law graduate, inducted into SEBI so that she gains experience and exposure in matters related to regulatory affairs. At SEBI, Vaneesa was involved in drafting key regulations related to foreign investor portfolios, insider trading, etc[8].

No wonder, after her stint with SEBI, the daughter began representing brokers on issues relating to self-trades and unauthorized trades, offering consultancy services to private companies regarding insider trading, fraudulent and unfair trade practices, etc. It was during his years with FMC in Mumbai that Abhishek developed close ties with big commodity brokers with allegations of rampant corruption against him flowing thick and fast[9].

As such, the former FMC chief is already facing in inquiry in this regard following a whistle-blower complaint to the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) that mentions that Atul Varma, an IPS officer who was working with Abhishek in Mumbai at the FMC then, had filed a complaint with CBI regarding Abhishek using commodities brokers and accepting bribes from them in the form of fake consultancy charges paid to the law firm of his daughter, Vanessa[6][10].

Conclusion

It’s high time, the government puts in legal checks and balances to prevent such blatant misuse of power and position by corrupt and pliant bureaucrats who are on the payroll of corrupt politicians for their entire career and post-retirement covet corporate positions to launder bribes they made while in service.

References:

[1] Ramesh Abhishek joins Cyient’s Board of DirectorsAug 13, 2020, Cyient.com

[2] Former DIPP secretary Ramesh Abhishek joins tech firm Cyient’s boardAug 15, 2020, ET Government.com

[3] Cyient Ltd subsidiary granted Industrial LicenseJun 30, 2018, Equitybulls.com

[4] How Ramesh Abhishek Failed To Deliver On One Of GOI’s best initiatives, Startup IndiaJul 20, 2019, PGurus.com

[5] DPIIT – currency printing start up for Ramesh Abhishek & family – Part 1?Jul 12, 2019, PGurus.com

[6] Corrupt officer joins the Global board of USIBC – Irony died a thousand deathsJul 22, 2020, PGurus.com

[7] The art of serving Politicians and enriching thyself – Part 1 – Jun 2, 2019, PGurus.com

[8] Ace Advisor of Lalu and part of PC’s Fantastic Four – P2Jun 4, 2019, PGurus.com

[9] Ramesh Abhishek favoured big brokers & suppressed EOW report against themJul 20, 2020, PGurus.com

[10] CVC says corruption charges against Ramesh Abhishek are “serious and verifiable”July 13, 2020, PGurus.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here