Eleven MPs from different political parties have been caught on camera by Cobrapost, allegedly willing to recommendation letters and lobby for a fake oil company for fees Rs.50,000 to Rs.50 lakh. The MPs in the sting videos are K. Sugumar and C. Rajendran (AIADMK), Lalu Bhai Patel, Ravindra Kumar Pandey and Hari Manjhi (BJP), Vishwa Mohan Kumar, Maheshwar Hazari and Bhudeo Chaudhary (JD-U), Khiladi Lal Bairwa and Vikrambhai Arjanbhai (Congress) and Kaiser Jahan (BSP).
Operation Falcon Claw shows the MPs willing to help Mediterranean Oil Inc. of Australia secure exploration and rigging rights in the northeast. No MP ever bothered to check the company's credentials or genuineness. The undercover reporter just showed them a website, a brochure and a company profile. What they were bothered about most was the money, quoting between Rs.50,000- Rs.50 lakh as the price for a recommendation letter, all in cash. One MP even demanded his fee paid through a hawala operator. To the reporter's surprise all MPs agreed to help.
While some MPs wrote letters addressing the Joint Secretary, Petroleum Ministry, others offered to lobby with the ministry officials or get the project sanctioned with help from the most powerful in the ruling party. Six MPs gave letters of recommendation in favour of the company for Rs. 50,000 - Rs. 75,000. Others won't settle for less than Rs. 5 lakh for a single letter, and in one case an MP demanded a ridiculously high amount of Rs. 50 lakh, which wasn't paid by the reporter.