Anonymous note alleges financial impropriety at PSU

Vol 10, PW 1 (04 May 06) People & Policy

Its the stuff of nightmares for any board director of a state owned Indian oil company, especially if you are innocent: when a colleague or someone in your department writes an anonymous 10-page note alleging five specific cases of financial impropriety against you (and a junior colleague) and then circulates it to the Prime Ministers Office, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the oil ministry, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the anti-corruption Central Vigilance Commission.

Its even worse when the author alleges a conspiracy between that director and two well-known overseas oil companies, one of them with an entrenched presence in India, to defraud the company of millions of dollars for personal gain, and goes on to suggest that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Such a note dated 20th April is circulating in the corridors of power here in Delhi.

Its author is anonymous but its contents are dynamite. Contacted by PETROWATCH, the Central Vigilance Commission confirms the existence of the note but stress that it has not launched a formal investigation and will not do so until the note reaches its desk.

We can confirm that a note dated 20th April is in circulation, says a source. Nobody is claiming ownership of this document.

It is anonymously written. Only if it comes to us can we decide on a course of action.

Contacted by this report, the director in question tells us that anonymous letters such as these are not uncommon against powerful PSU directors in the Indian oil industry and are often written by peers or activists driven by jealously or the perception that corruption is more prevalent than it actually is. If you have a clear conscience as I do, he tells us.

Theres nothing to fear. Clearly written by someone with intimate knowledge of the company, the allegations against the two international oil companies and the director, if proven, would be enough to destroy a career and cause irreparable damage to their reputations.

It is for this reason that we are not revealing the names of the individual concerned or the companies involved. Responsible journalism and common decency dictate that until proven guilty, youre innocent.