Interpol confirms ‘bribe’ for NTPC deal

Interpol confirms ‘bribe’ for NTPC deal

New Delhi: While the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is yet to complete a probe into the alleged pay-offs made by Russia’s Technoprom Exports for getting a contract to supply boilers to NTPC Ltd’s Barh power project in Bihar, Interpol has told the federal investigation agency that an offshore transaction did take place that involved transfer of Rs90 crore to Raveena Associates, Technoprom’s agent in India.

“While the inquiry is still on and the report is expected to be submitted in a few days, CBI has been informed by the Interpol that an offshore transaction did take place that involved a transfer of Rs90 crore to Raveena Associates, its agent in India," said a top government official, who asked not to be named.

Interpol, or International Criminal Police Organization, facilitates cross-border police cooperation and has 186 member countries.

After Technoprom Exports was awarded the contract in February 2005, CBI had raided the house of C.P. Jain, the then chairman and managing director of NTPC. It was also found out that Technoprom had not disclosed the existence of its Indian agent—Raveena Associates—at the time of placing the bid.

It has been alleged that Raveena Associates used the money to make pay-offs to Jain and others.

“The 1,980MW project has been controversial from the start—when CBI raided the home of C.P. Jain over the issue of alleged pay-offs made by Technoprom," said a senior power ministry official, who didn’t want to be identified.

The development was independently confirmed by two government officials.

Raveena Associates could not be contacted. Both Jain and R.S. Sharma, NTPC’s current chairman and managing director, refused to comment. In an email, Interpol said Mint should contact CBI, but a CBI spokesperson declined to comment on the development, saying that he was on leave and his office should be contacted. Repeated phone calls to his office went unanswered.

When questioned about its relationship with Raveena Associates and asked to comment on Interpol’s confirmation, Technoprom, in a garbled email response to Mint, wrote: “We to given any relation have no transaction. I ask you not to lift this theme more."

The Rs8,700 crore Barh power project, which is already behind schedule by two years, has virtually come to a standstill following contractual disputes between the state-owned power producer and Technoprom as reported by Mint on 2 May.

The project’s foundation stone was laid by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999.

The 1,980MW project requires 40,000 tonnes of construction material of which only 30%, or 12,000 tonnes, has been sourced. NTPC is India’s largest power generation company with a capacity of 29,144MW. The delay in the project will affect its plans to raise the total capacity to 50,000MW by 2012.