Extortion calls by insider for ‘protection money’ and Rs. 42 000 crore deal between Avantha Group and Adani Power

Lalit Shastri

Did this insider have access to some sensitive information having a direct bearing on the Korba Power project deal?

Avantha PowerExtortion calls for ‘protection money’ for the Rs. 42 000 crore acquisition agreement between Avantha Group and Adani Power Limited led to the arrest of a senior corporate executive of a Thapar-Avantha Group company. The fact that an insider was the mastermind who hatched the criminal conspiracy and used an associate for making threat calls gives rise to a big question: Did this insider have access to some sensitive information having a direct bearing on the Korba Power project deal?

Eight months after Sudhir Trehan, Chairman of Avantha Power and Infrastructure Limited (APIL) had announced the commissioning at Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, the first unit of 600 MW project of the Korba West Power Company Limited (KWPCL), a wholly owned subsidiary of APIL, by describing it as ‘an important milestone and a significant stepping stone for the company in its quest to become an important private power producer in the country’, Adani Power had stepped in and on November 24 last year, closed a Rs. 42,000 crore deal with Gautam Thapar’s Avantha Group to buy out the Korba project.

Today, four months down the line, the Korba West power project once again is in news but for an entirely different reason. This time, the news is neither about a company projecting its new-found status as an important power producer in the country nor is it about two major corporate houses involved in the sale and purchase of a power project. On the contrary it points to a complaint regarding threatening calls made to Anil Bhargava, the high profile Director of Avantha Group, who was part of the business delegation that accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his just concluded three-nation tour. These were extortion calls by an insider to demand an amount of Rs. 25 Crores as ‘protection money’ for the recently concluded sale of the Korba West power project to the Adani Group. The Delhi Police swung into action and two persons,  the head of Corporate Affairs of a Thapar Group company and an associate of his, have been arrested in this connection.

A senior Government of India officer when contacted said the case does not end merely with the arrest of two persons and their confession of crime during interrogation by the police. The seizure of mobile phones and SIM cards could be treated as conclusive evidence to pin down the culprits. But in this case, the big question that requires an answer is what sensitive inside information the head of Corporate Affairs of a Thapar Group company was possessing to leverage his demand for Rs. 25 crore as “protection money” for the sale of Korba West power project by Avantha Group to Adani Power.

CLICK HERE to read earlier story: Thapar-Avantha Group Director on three-nation tour with the PM receives extortion threats, two arrested

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