BANGALORE: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) put up a brave front on Monday while responding to a series of queries linked to the multi-crore fraud in its Aerospace Division, orchestrated by contract worker C Rajanna. HAL deputed V M Chamola, Director (Human Resources), to explain its official version after Express exposed the scam.
Both the HAL and the police kept the fraud details under wraps for over two months. During a one-to-one session with Express, Chamola gave the full credit to HAL’s new auditing tools for exposing the scam.
“We introduced new system of audit procedures in all our divisions early this year as part of corporate office’s new finance initiatives. In the first week of March, a lady officer doing audit at the Aerospace Division found certain glaring errors, and we started looking at them deeply. Then, we caught Rajanna on March 17 and handed him over to the police after seizing his mobile phone and other records,” Chamola said.
Asked how such a massive fraud went undetected for over five years, Chamola said: “We admit the mistake and our efforts are now to recover the money. We met the state chief secretary, Bangalore police commissioner and other officials to apprise them of the magnitude of the fraud. We want a thorough investigation,” Chamola said.
To a query as to how HAL involved job contract labourers (JCLs) to handle such a sensitive work, he said: “There was manpower shortage which forced us to put JCLs in some divisions. We are inducting more people on permanent rolls this year to address this concern.”
Rajanna’s fraud came to light after the HAL found several multiple entries under one name at the Aerospace Division. The HAL introduced Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system in December 2009 for faster payments. But, Rajanna managed to tamper with RTGS forms.
Asked how did bank officials not notice any thing wrong for a long time, Chamola said the HAL had been writing to banks for due diligence from time to time. To another query whether Rajanna’s network in the HAL could be bigger, Chamola said: “We have taken action against two. We don’t suspect too many persons. The chief of our Systems Audit is probing in addition to a vigilance investigation. We have also informed the CBI of the incident.”
Chamola, however, did not know whether the CBI already started probing the scam or would do so in future. “We are keen to take the matter to a logical end. We want to recover the money,” he added. He said Rajanna did not have access to any sensitive information related to Aerospace Division projects.