11 MPs asked for money to write recommendations: Cobrapost sting

News portal Cobrapost Thursday claimed 11 MPs from five parties were willing to issue letters of recommendation to promote a fictitious foreign company for a fee ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 50 lakh.

Cobrapost claimed its operation, 'Falcon Claw', purportedly showed the MPs admitting on camera that they were not only willing to write recommendation letters, but also lobby with the Union Ministry of Petroleum to help a foreign firm secure oil exploration and rigging rights in the Northeast.

Of the 11 MPs, two belong to Congress, three to BJP, two to AIADMK, three to JD(U) and one to BSP. Seven of them allegedly accepted cash for writing letters, while Congress MP from Rajasthan K Lal Bairwa allegedly demanded Rs 50 lakh to arrange recommendations from three MPs. But the sting team never paid any money to Bairwa.

Cobrapost editor Aniruddha Bahal claimed the operation "exposed" the MPs did not care to check the antecedents of the fake foreign oil company, Mediterranean Oil Inc. of Queensland, Australia. The website's reporter claimed to be the company's consultant.

In a statement, Cobrapost said the MPs were "K Sugumar and C Rajendran from AIADMK, Lalu Bhai Patel, Ravindra Kumar Pandey and Hari Manjhi from BJP; Vishwa Mohan Kumar, Maheshwar Hazari and Bhudeo Chaudhary from JD(U), Khiladi Lal Bairwa and Vikrambhai Arjanbhai from Congress and Kaiser Jahan from BSP. Six MPs issued letters of recommendation to Cobrapost."

Bahal said, "We selected these names after a prior information and in all cases, we were working through middlemen."

When contacted, Hazari told The Indian Express, "It is a political conspiracy. I have not received any money, nor given any letter." Sugumar claimed he had not received any money. "They came to me through my PA and I issued a letter but did not get any money," he said.

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