Pawan Ruia’s alleged attempt to siphon off money earned “by selling raw materials provided by the Indian Railways to manufacture its coaches”, led to the downfall of the iconic Jessop and Company, investigating officers suspect.
According to the sources in CID, preliminary investigations seem to suggest that the factory was deliberately set ablaze to convey the impression that all documents had been destroyed in the fire. Though Ruia’s counsels are claiming that he remained detached with the dealings of Jessop and Company since 2008, investigating officers are now privy to information that he was behind the siphoning off crores of rupees by selling the materials provided to manufacture railway coaches.
Investigators suspect that the money was parked in Thailand and Malaysia after being routed through hawala channels. The investigating agency had received this information from various sources and are interrogating Ruia to verify the facts.
The investigating officers have also collected details about an ongoing real estate project off VIP Road by the group headed by him. “Probe is underway to uncover the money trail. A couple of complaints were lodged with the police earlier alleging repeated incidents of theft in the factory. Questions are being raised on why no steps were taken despite knowing about the thefts taking place in a factory where there were raw materials to the tune of Rs 50 crore,” said a CID officer.
In 2003, Ruia group had acquired the company which had played a major role in the construction of the Howrah Bridge in the 1940s and Parliament House. It had also constructed Vidyasagar Setu in the 1990s.
It was on November 5, this year when the allegation against the chief of the Ruia Group came to light with the Railway Ministry filing a complaint at the Dum Dum police station. The complaint was lodged alleging theft of raw materials provided to Jessop and Company to manufacture railway coaches. On the same date, A K Verma, a senior Railways official, had sent a letter alleging the same to the ADG of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Subsequently, CID officers began piecing together the sequence of events that led to the downfall of the company that had bagged orders worth a few crores in 2012. Railway officials had visited the factory on November 4 this year to verify the status of the work for which they had placed the order. Incidentally, they neither found any ready coach as per the order given nor did they find the raw materials worth Rs 50 crore which had been supplied by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) on behalf of the Railways. Interestingly, a fire broke out in the factory on November 10 and 17.