Landlord with house in Noida and direct line to DGH

Vol 13, PW 8 (24 Sep 09) People & Policy

â€کConflict of interest’ is a curious notion.

In Hindi there’s no direct translation, which probably explains why few in India thinks it’s a problem. But some do think it’s a problem, like the brave-hearted Pioneer newspaper, which on September 17 listed serious allegations against DGH boss VK Sibal and his â€کspecial’ relationship with Reliance Industries.

Leave that aside for now, and look instead at something more banal, Mr. Sibal’s residence at the following address: C-8, Sector-39, in the Delhi suburb of Noida.

Oil India confirms to this report that under a lease agreement dated July 24, 2007, the state-owned explorer is paying Sibal’s rent at this address to the tune of Rs40,000/month (Rs33,802 after tax). Oil India further confirms this rent is paid to a certain Jagjot Singh (JS) Anand.

Nothing unusual in that, one might argue. Oil India, after all, is Sibal’s parent company and under law he is perfectly entitled to a maximum rent allowance of Rs40,000/month.

Cut now to the five-star Shangri-La in central Delhi and a sunny wintry afternoon on December 22 last year. Assembled oil companies, government officials and media, including this report, witness the signing of a raft of PSCs from the just-concluded NELP-VII round.

Among them is a PSC for CB-ONN-2005/11 in Gujarat, won by a consortium of Quest Petroleum (20%), Quippo Oil & Gas (40%), Vectra Investments (10%), Primera Energy (10%) and SREI Infrastructure (20%). What’s so special about this block Well, according to Form 22B submitted to the Indian registrar of companies, Quest Petroleum registered a new promoter on August 27 last year: Mohinder Kaur Anand, wife of JS Anand, Sibal’s landlord! Examine Form 22B closer to discover another surprising disclosure: the correspondence address for Ms.

Mohinder Kaur Anand, new promoter of Quest Petroleum and 20% stakeholder in CB-ONN-2005/11, is none other than Sibal’s home address: C-8, Sector-39. Is that a â€کConflict of interest’, you ask Well, in English, yes; but in Hindi, probably not!