India Inc not surprised by leakage of documents from govt departments

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 24, 2018

35% of firms engage in corporate espionage: Assocham

The corporate espionage episode at the Petroleum Ministry has not surprised Corporate India.

A number of corporate honchos who spoke to BusinessLine, on conditions of anonymity, said that they already knew about important documents being leaked out of Government departments.

“This is not something which happens only at the Petroleum ministry. This has been happening in all important Ministries and Departments for years,” said a senior executive of a Mumbai-based conglomerate.

“These documents are very valuable to know what the Government is thinking. It allows companies to make future plans or influence decision makers if they have advance information on a possible adverse policy decision coming their way,” said a CEO of a large retail company.

Access to Government documents is not a well kept secret, said a CFO of a telecom company. “There are examples of companies in capital intensive sectors such as power, telecom, steel, mining and exploration accessing ‘classified documents’ for their benefits,” he said.

In addition to leaking Government documents, some corporates also indulge in industrial espionage to know their rival’s secrets.

According to a study done by Assocham in 2012, over 35 per cent of companies operating in various sectors across India were engaged in corporate espionage to gain advantage over their competitors.

Assocham study

Assocham had carried out a covert survey during the January-May period and interacted with about 1,500 CEOs and EDs from diverse sectors in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai to ascertain the measures taken by India Inc to safeguard their data, plans, clients' details, products and other confidential and trade-related secrets. According to a CEO of a Delhi-based company, the leaks at Government departments can be prevented if the entire policy making process is made transparent.

“If files and documents are put out online for everyone to see then it would help in curbing leaks to a great extent,” the CEI said.

Others suggest a more punitive approach. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, former owner of BPL Mobile, wrote on Twitter, “Corporate espionage in Delhi reveals the dark underbelly of government-business-media nexus! Information not innovation drives many corporates. This time the guilty corporates and their 'consultants' must be punished to deter others in future.”

Published on February 20, 2015

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