Worried ministry officer returns gold 'bribe'

Vol 20, PW 7 (15 Dec 16) People & Policy

Some say corruption is rife at the oil ministry under Dharmendra Pradhan with officials allegedly accepting gold gifts from contractors desperate to win jobs from state-owned companies.

Take an incident this month when a senior officer in Pradhan's office suddenly returned an expensive gold idol of the goddess Lakshmi to a foreign contractor after he was questioned by this report. The contractor in question claims he met the official in early November through a "middleman." Supremely confident, the official assured the contractor he would call ONGC chairman DK Sarraf or another director to win a job.

In return he allegedly asked for 2% of the contract value once the deal was done. Later the middleman told the foreign contractor to give the official a gold Lakshmi idol worth Rs72,000 ($1200) as a Diwali gift.

"Oil ministry officers prefer gold instead of cash," says a source. "Clients are told they must bring a receipt from the jeweler so that the gift can be encashed." After an assurance he would get the job, the foreign contractor kept his units on standby but never got the expected call offering him an assignment.

After pointed questions by this report, the official in question returned the gold gift to the contractor. "I gave him what he wanted," says the contractor.

"Why didn't he do the work?"

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