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11 MPs caught in sting op for issuing letters to fake oil company

Last updated on: December 12, 2013 16:32 IST

11 MPs caught in sting op for issuing letters to fake oil company

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In its latest undercover investigation, codenamed Operation Falcon Claw, Cobrapost has reportedly exposed a bunch of parliamentarians willing to not only write recommendation letters but also lobby with the petroleum ministry for a foreign company to help it secure oil exploration and rigging rights in the Northeast.

In all 11 MPs from the Congress Party, the BJP, the JDU, AIADMK and BSP were reportedly caught on camera willing to help the company set up shop in India. However, none of them bothered to check the antecedents of the company or check if the company was real.

The parliamentarians who allegedly stand exposed are K Sugumar and C Rajendran from AIADMK; Lalu Bhai Patel, Ravindra Kumar Pandey and Hari Manjhi from BJP; Vishwa Mohan Kumar, Maheshwar Hazari and Bhudeo Chaudhary from JDU; Khiladi Lal Bairwa and Vikrambhai Arjanbhai from Congress; and Kaiser Jahan from BSP.

The 6 MPs allegedly gave the undercover journalists letters of recommendation in favour of Mediterranean Oil Inc for a sum ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000.

'Others wont settle for less than Rs 5 lakh for a single letter, and in one case an MP quoted a ridiculously high price for a single letter, at Rs 50 lakh. There was no point giving them so much money,' Cobrapost claimed.

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Assuming a fake identity, Ashish Jadon, representing an equally fake foreign oil company, the Mediterranean Oil Inc of Queensland, Australia, complete with a website, brochure and company profile, Cobrapost reporter K Ashish approached these parliamentarians.

Introducing himself as a consultant working for Mediterranean Oil Inc entrusted with the onerous task of rallying support from MPs across the political spectrum for its oil exploration bid in the Northeast, pegging the project at Rs 1000 crore, he requested the MPs he met to write a recommendation letter.

But far from being turned down, all parliamentarians reportedly agreed to help.

'If some of them wrote letters of recommendation addressing the joint secretary with the petroleum ministry, others offered to either lobby directly with the ministry mandarins or get the project sanctioned with help from the most mighty among the ruling party,' Cobrapost claimed.

When Cobrapost reporter, for instance, suggested Lalu Bhai Patel to pursue our case with the ministry, the BJP MP from Daman and Diu reportedly said, “Haan bhai (Yes, brother)!”

The reporter paid him Rs 50, 000 for a recommendation letter, as he also agreed to lobby for them. His fellow party leader Hari Manjhi from Gaya, Bihar, would come along for lobbying to the oil ministry: “Jayenge … chalenge (Will go … will come along).”

Similarly, Maheshwar Hazari, the JD-U MP from Samastipur, Bihar, reportedly reassured them: “Jab tak hain tab tak aapki company ki madad karenge ... yahan se lekar mantralay tak, jahan tak kahiyega (Will help your company till my term lasts … from this level up to the ministry, wherever you ask).”

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