India

MP E-tendering scam: Three directors of IT firm arrested in ₹3000 crore scam

Tenders since 2016 to be probed in the ₹3000-crore scam which took place during the erstwhile BJP government’s tenure in Madhya Pradesh

Former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan (PTI)

Kashif Kakvi

A day after registering a case in the ₹3000 crore e-tender scam, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Madhya Pradesh conducted the first raid and made the first arrest in the high profile scam on Thursday. The EOW raided Osmo IT Solutions office in Bhopal and arrested three directors of the firm.

Superintendent of Police Arun Mishra said two directors and one sales director of the company: Vinay Choudhary, Varun Chaturvedi and Sumit Golwalkar were detained on Wednesday. And on Thursday, they have been arrested, he added. The police have also seized computer hard disks, servers and other equipment during the raids. The equipment seized will be sent to the digital forensic labs in New Delhi and Hyderabad for investigation.

According to the sources, department officials and the private company officials have allegedly changed the bid amount by tampering the data of nine tenders of five departments. After preliminary investigations, a case was registered against ‘unidentified bureaucrats and politicians under relevant sections of the IPC.

Interestingly, the Osmo IT Solutions is not the part of any procurement process, they have neither participated in the tendering process nor did it help any firm to file the tenders. But its name came to the fore in the scam as during the primary investigations, the company’s IP address was traced by the investigation agencies which was used in tampering of the contracts.

SP Arun Mishra said the time period of the investigation has been extended and that now, the police will investigate the tendering process since 2016. The MP State Electronics Development Corporation has been executing e-tenders since 2013-14. Around 3.50 lakh tenders had been floated by the corporation since then. Earlier the tenders from January 2018 to March 18 were under the EOW’s scanner.

Taking lessons from the infamous Vyapam scam, this time, the IT team of the police is taking note of the hash value of the files in the computers. According to sources, the issue of hash value came to the fore during hearing in Vyapam case.

But this time the police IT team is taking the computer files’ hash value at the time of seizure so as to avoid being proved wrong by the accused in the Court. The team of experts is taking the hash value of the computer files in the same office. Not only this, CCTV cameras installed in the office are being kept operative to keep a record of the happenings.

Hash values are like fingerprints for files. The contents of a file are processed through a cryptographic algorithm, and a unique numerical value – the hash value - is produced that identifies the contents of the file. If the contents are modified in any way, the value of the hash will also change significantly.

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