The Ministry of Defense has called in the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to investigate a case of a conspiracy to improperly procure contracts from the office of the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR).
This is the first time the defense ministry has called in the SFIO to conduct an investigation. The SFIO is a specialized unit focusing on white collar crime and was considered notably successful in its investigation of the Satyam accounting fraud.
The defense ministry said in a statement that this step was taken ‘after an inquiry found substance in allegations regarding subletting of security agencies and obtaining multiple benefits by a few Ex-servicemen officers’.
It is understood that the decision to call in the SFIO was taken by Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony late on Saturday, after reviewing the preliminary inquiry into the case.
A private company, Ex-Servicemen’ Airlink Transport Services Pvt Ltd (EATS) has been implicated in the case, in which former servicemen, reemployed with the DGR, were also on the board of the company and garnering multiple contracts for providing security services to Central Public Sector Units (government-owned companies). There have also been cases of subcontracting of security contracts in violation of the terms of the DGR.
The ministry says, “Action is also being initiated against the officers mentioned in the inquiry report who flouted the extant norms and guidelines of various schemes and thus were involved in administrative improprieties.”
The ministry describes the Directorate General Resettlement as an Attached office of Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, which is responsible for training and rehabilitation of retiring defense personnel and Ex-servicemen through various self-employment schemes, which also include contracts to security Agencies run by veterans for security services to government-owned companies.