New Delhi: Unravelling an alleged corruption ring in the Indian Navy, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested five people, including a serving commander, two veterans and two private individuals, for “passing on sensitive information in connection with the modernisation of a submarine project in exchange for money”.
The CBI has registered a case for breach of trust, criminal conspiracy, and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
CBI officials did not confirm if sections from the Officials Secrets Act (OSA) have been invoked in the case. In the event of OSA being invoked, it will be a case of espionage.
Sources said the CBI raided a total of 19 places in Delhi, Noida, Mumbai and Hyderabad, and recovered “incriminating documents”.
“Five people have been arrested and are currently under judicial custody. We received specific information about the involvement of the men in leaking sensitive information related to a Navy project, which is a matter of national security, in exchange for huge amounts of money. Soon after, we registered a case in the matter and started the probe,” a source said.
“During the probe, we found that a commander-level officer was involved in leaking information related to the modernisation project of the submarine. Along with him, two retired officers and two other people were involved. The men were arrested and questioned at length,” the source added.
The CBI has seized electronic gadgets from the accused including their mobile phones, iPads and laptops.
“Raids were conducted and electronic documents were recovered from the devices that were seized from the accused. The documents are being analysed,” the source said. “These are secret documents that should not have been in custody of these people.”
The source added that some of the documents pertained to some “purchases”.
A second CBI source also said that “huge amounts of money were exchanged”, but did not elaborate any further.
“It is a matter under investigation. We are probing several links that have emerged in the investigation,” this source said.
Navy initiates internal inquiry
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the suspects were first detained in late September, and were arrested subsequently.
It is learnt that the project concerned involved the refit of the Kilo class submarines, a mainstay of the Indian Navy.
Sources said there are other projects also that the accused are suspected to have leaked information about, and the probe is on.
The Navy in a statement Tuesday said the investigation related to “alleged information leak of administrative and commercial nature being with some unauthorised personnel has come to light and is being investigated by the appropriate government agency”.
It added that the probe by the agency with complete support of the Indian Navy is in progress and an internal inquiry has been instituted by the force.