CBI books former CMD of Heavy Engineering Corporation in corruption case

The CBI has registered a corruption case against former chairman and managing director of Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd (HECL) Avijit Ghosh, officials said on Monday.

Ghosh has been booked for alleged irregularities in setting up a centre of excellence for skill development in collaboration with CNIITMASH, a joint stock company of Russia, they said.

The agency has alleged that Ghosh and others entered into a criminal conspiracy with CNIITMASH during 2015-19 with intention to cheat government exchequer by floating manipulated Expression of Interest.

The CBI, which registered an FIR under IPC section of criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act after a year-long preliminary enquiry, said that the Centre had launched a scheme in November 2014 with an objective to boost Indian economy by making the Indian Capital Goods Sector globally competitive.

Under the scheme, the government had to facilitate grant-in-aid to the industries which would form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) as not for profit companies, societies, trust for setting up of Common Engineering Facility Centre (CEFC), the officials said.

According to the scheme, the Centre had to provide one-time grant-in-aid up to 80 per cent of the project cost with a cap of Rs 48.96 crore for two CEFCs while balance 20 per cent required to be invested by the SPV, the FIR said.

The HECL floated an Expression of Interest (EOI) for attracting the international reputed firms and research institutes for technological collaboration and transfer so that most of the equipment can be manufactured and commissioned indigenously by it.

The CBI alleged that Ghosh sent a “back dated” proposal to the Ministry of Heavy Industries for setting up centre of excellence for skill development with consultation fee of Rs 30 crore to CNIITMASH which was to be paid out of grant to train 1,350 engineers in various specialities over a period of three years.

It emerged that only one batch of 86 engineers was trained and payment of Rs 16 crore was made to CNIITMASH.

The CBI preliminary enquiry flagged a number of irregularities in the process like non-transparent and biased EOI process, changes made without approval of the Board or the ministry and payments made sending false information and on furnishing of false completion certificates, the FIR said.

“The rationale of the negotiation is also biased as to how the agreed price was arrived at. There was overall lack of supervision and violation to the norms and regulations laid down. Another aspect on the part of the chosen agency is the fact that they did not have the technology in steel plant and items of their own, but claimed the same in March 2015,” it alleged. 

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