AFCONS rejects 'fraudulent' claim allegations

Vol 21, PW 25 (20 Sep 18) People & Policy

AFCONS has hit back at damaging allegations that it is making 'fraudulent' claims to extract money from ONGC over two EPC projects: the ICPR and HRD offshore platforms offshore Mumbai.

AFCONS is embroiled in a payment dispute with ONGC over a $117m claim for ICPR and a separate $69m claim for HRD, according to a six-page undated letter to ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker from anonymous whistleblower 'Rameshwar Jhangiani'. In the letter Jhangiani says AFCONS completed and handed over the ICPR platform to ONGC in 2012 after a pre-bid and detailed engineering completed by Aker in 2008.

But he alleges AFCONS hired Kavin Engineering on March 27, 2017 for another pre-bid and engineering job, also at ICPR, which it is now using to claim $117m from ONGC under the earlier ICPR job completed five years before. Jhangiani provides letters from AFCONS to Kavin and Aker as evidence and further alleges AFCONS' claim for the HRD project is invalid.

"ONGC should not be lenient as it will lead to vigilance (anti-corruption) cases," he writes. AFCONS describes the allegations as "baseless" blaming them on "disgruntled" former employees "trying to stir up trouble." A well-placed AFCONS source tells us: "We're a big company doing many projects.

Disagreement and arbitration with clients happens. That's not unusual.

We know such letters are going around. Many who receive them throw them into the waste paper basket which is where they belong.

But some reach us and we respond."