In MP e-tendering ‘scam’, probe finds evidence of tampering only 3 tenders: EOW

A report by the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has confirmed tampering of only three e-tenders of Madhya Pradesh Jal Nigam in 2018 that were subsequently cancelled, people aware of the matter said.

MP’s director-general, economic offences wing (EOW) Ajay Sharma confirmed that investigators have received the report from CERT-In, the national nodal agency for computer security incidents, but declined to reveal its findings.

“The probe is about to be completed and soon we will file a charge sheet in the court,” Sharma said.

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government decided to probe allegations of manipulation of the e-tenders ahead of the 2018 state elections after the then principal secretary of science and technology department Manish Rastogi raised questions about the process. A formal case was registered by the EOW a year later when the Congress, which called it a 3,000 e-tendering scam in the run-up to the assembly elections, came to power.

The FIR, registered in April 2019, was filed against five departments, seven companies and unnamed bureaucrats and politicians.

An EOW official familiar with the investigation said their probe based on the CERT-In report confirmed tampering in three tenders and suspected compromise in five others. But there is nothing to indicate that any government official was involved or that the tampering of the bids led to any loss to the public exchequer.

Till now, EOW has filed one charge sheet and booked 21 people, mainly directors of the five companies which were awarded the tenders due to tampering and pinned the blame for the tampering on the firm OSMO IT solutions, the firm which was assigned the task of improving the portal but allegedly tampered with the bids, and Antares Systems Ltd (ASL), an implementation agency sub-contracted to ensure end-to-end e-procurement.

EOW officials said OSMO officials were asked to figure out why the e-procurement portal was slow. “They used the testing ID to modify the contents of the bids,” one official said.

“Although we believe tampering was done on behalf of the companies, we don’t have any direct evidence for the same,” said the official added.

Among those who were arrested in this case are the director of OSMO IT solutions Vinay Chaudhary, Varun Chaturvedi and Sumit Bolwalakar and the vice president of ASL Manohar MN.

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