CBI to send judicial requests to UK, UAE, South Korea in bribery case against lobbyist Sanjay Bhandari

According to CBI officials, the agency has filed three applications requesting the issuance of letters rogatory to the UAE, the UK, and South Korea

According to CBI officials, the agency has filed three applications requesting the issuance of letters rogatory to the UAE, the UK, and South Korea
According to CBI officials, the agency has filed three applications requesting the issuance of letters rogatory to the UAE, the UK, and South Korea

Against lobbyist Sanjay Bhandari, CBI to seeks judicial assistance from UK, UAE, and S Korea

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will send letters rogatory to the UK, the UAE, and South Korea in connection with a bribery case against lobbyist Sanjay Bhandari, who is accused of influencing a contract related to an ONGC Petro Additions Ltd (OPAL) plant in Gujarat, officials said Tuesday. The contract was for setting up a dual feed cracker unit (DFCU) at the OPAL plant in Dahej.

The CBI has filed three applications seeking the issuance of letters rogatory, a judicial request by a court for the assistance of a foreign court, to the UAE, the UK, and South Korea for information related to the case and accused individuals and companies, the officials said. According to the CBI, the tender for the DFCU was floated on April 20, 2007, in which two consortiums participated — the first was a consortium of Germany’s Linde, and Korea’s SECL; and the second was of USA’s Shaw Stone & Webster and India’s L&T.

The consortiums submitted their bids in 2008 in which the front-end technology consultant for the project Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd, UK, calculated the Net Present Value (NPV) of the Linde consortium to be Rs.4,160 crore while Rs.3,918 crore for Shaw Stone & Webster consortium. Because of the high NPV, the contract went to Linde and SECL consortium at Rs.6,744.32 crore at their quoted lump sum price in spite of a review sought by Shaw Stone & Webster which was rejected, they said.

The CBI has alleged that Bhandari, as the director of UAE-based Santech International, entered into a criminal conspiracy with Samsung Engineering Co Ltd (SECL) by charging a consultancy fee of USD 49.99 lakh from it, in violation of the integrity clause in the contract agreement between the Korean major and OPAL, they alleged. The enquiry found several e-mail exchanges between Bhandari and Hong Nam Koong, then senior manager at SECL, including about a consulting service agreement between Santech and SECL, the FIR alleged.

The alleged consultancy fee was received in overseas accounts of Santech International on June 13, 2009, nearly four months after the contract between OPAL and Linde consortium was executed, they said. The agency has alleged that the consultancy charges were understood to be bribes for public officials to swing the contract for OPAL’s Dual Fuel Cracker unit to be set at Dahej Petrochemical complex in Gujarat in the favour of SECL, they said.

The enquiry also found an unsigned agreement between SECL and the UK’s Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd, which was the front-end technology consultant, on July 19, 2007, appointing the former as a consultant, the FIR alleged. They said this agreement, months after the tendering process had begun, was important because Foster Wheeler had prepared bid documents and calculated NPV which became the basis for selecting the Linde consortium.

In its investigation so far, the CBI has examined over 60 people and needs data pertaining to Santech from the Registrar of Companies UAE for the period of 2006 to 2016, the officials said. They said all the records related to UAE-registered company are to be submitted to the Registrar of Companies there and the CBI wants to get details of contracts between SECL and Santech which may have been furnished by way of statutory compliance.

The agency found that Bhandari had allegedly transferred Rs.2 crore to Farhan Mohammed Aslam, another director in Santech, in his company Jaslam Trading in 2015 and had requisitioned its details as well, they said.

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