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Veteran business journalist under CBI probe in NSE illegal snooping case

Veteran business journalist under CBI probe in NSE illegal snooping case

The alleged snooping took place between 2009 to 2017, coincidentally, the period when the co-location scam took place. The snooping machine was later disposed of as e-waste of NSE.

According to sources, former NSE head Chitra Ramakrishna and Ravi Narain roped in a private firm to illegally snoop on NSE employees. According to sources, former NSE head Chitra Ramakrishna and Ravi Narain roped in a private firm to illegally snoop on NSE employees.

A senior business journalist has come under of Central Bureau of Investigation in the NSE co-location case involving its former chief Chitra Ramakrishna, Ravi Narain and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey. Sources have told India Today that the role of the journalist surfaced when the CBI was probing the contract given to a firm linked to Sanjay Pandey and the alleged snooping on certain people.

Sources have also told India Today TV that CBI has come across evidence suggesting illegal snooping by Sanjay Pandey.

During its probe, CBI has recovered payment receipts to the company backed by Sanjay Pandey, voice samples of the recording, original transcripts of the recording and servers along with two laptops from the premises of iSec Services Pvt Ltd, a firm linked to Sanjay Pandey, containing incriminating evidence of phone tapping on four MTNL lines with each line accommodating 30 calls at a time.

According to sources, former NSE head Chitra Ramakrishna and Ravi Narain roped in a private firm to illegally snoop on NSE employees. CBI suspects that the duo wanted to find if the employees were discussing or leaking exchange-related information.

Sanjay Pandey-backed company iSec Services, sources added, received around Rs 4.45 crores as contract amount. The alleged snooping took place between 2009 to 2017, coincidentally, the period when the co-location scam took place. The snooping machine was later disposed of as e-waste of NSE.

The journalist under scanner, sources added, helped Sanjay Pandey in getting contract for illegal snooping. CBI suspects that the journalist was aware of the nature of work still, the journalist under scanner, approached the highest authorities in NSE to make sure that Pandey’s backed firm gets contracts.

CBI has also recovered incriminating documents during searches after which the journalist is under probe.

On Friday, CBI conducted searches at 18 premises of the accused including in Mumbai, Pune, Kota, Lucknow and Delhi-NCR including the residence of Sanjay Pandey. Sources say Sanjay Pandey was also questioned by the CBI in connection with this case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against New Delhi-based iSEC Services Private Limited Ltd, its then officials and directors including Santosh Pandey, Anand Narayan, Armaan Pandey, Manish Mittal, Naman Chaturvedi (then Sr. Information Security Analyst) including former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey along with NSE’s former chiefs Ravi Narain, Chitra Ramakrishna, Ravi Varanasi (then Executive Vice President), Mahesh Haldipur (then Head Premises) and unknown others.

The case was lodged after a reference from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in connection with the alleged illegal interception of telephones of NSE employees carried out by its top management in collusion with the accused private company between 2009-2017.

“It was alleged that during 2009 to 2017 the accused and private company conspired to illegally intercept the telephones of NSE employees. In furtherance to this conspiracy, the private company was allegedly engaged in the guise of conducting ‘Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities' at NSE. It was further alleged that top officials of NSE issued agreement (Work Orders) in favour of the private company and illegally intercepted the phone calls of its employees by installing machines in contravention of provisions under Indian Telegraph Act,” said the CBI officials.

CBI has also alleged that no permission for this activity was taken from the Competent Authority as provided under the Indian Telegraph Act.

“No consent of the employees of NSE was also taken in this matter. It was also alleged that the transcripts of these calls were provided by said private company and received by the senior officials of NSE,” added the CBI.