Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ONGC Director Shashi Shankar’s Suspension: What’s the complaint and who had complained?

Shashi Shankar (extreme right) during an award function
THE government on Tuesday suspended a director ranked official of state-run oil and gas major ONGC on charges of “gross misconduct while dealing with a tender” of 2011. But who had complained against Shankar and whether he was “fixed” by some vendors? Read on:

1. The charges against Shankar are alleged irregularities while processing a yet-to-be-awarded tender of 2011 for procuring equipment worth about Rs 23 crore (at current exchange rate).
2. The official statement issued by the ministry of petroleum said “Shri Shashi Shankar, Director (T and FS), ONGC has committed gross misconduct while dealing with a tender for Procurement of Twenty One Blowout Preventers (BOP)”. It further said: “He has been associated with this tender as GGM and OSD to Director (T and FS) and from 01.01.2012 as Director (T and FS). Taking strong note of the lapses the Government on 23rd February ordered suspension of Shri Shashi Shankar with immediate effect to ensure fair and transparent inquiry.”
3. This is the first instance of a senior functionary of the company (a board member) being suspended ever since ONGC was listed over two decades ago.
4. Aged 54, Shashi Shankar is the youngest director in ONGC. He was perceived as a strong contender for the chairman's post.
5. It's not known who had complained against him. But the complaint against Shankar emanated from ONGC itself, according to a Hindustan Times report quoting petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
6. A report published by The Times of India hinted that Shankar's suspension could be a result of internal rivalry in the ONGC board. Or, is Shankar "fixed" by vendors affected by his efforts to streamline the procurement process?
7. Questions are also raised on how Shankar was appointed as a director in December 2012 if there were charges pending against him.

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