OVL boss Dinesh Sarraf to take over as new ONGC chief

Dinesh K Sarraf will take over as the new chairman and managing director of the country's most profitable firm, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, replacing Sudhir Vasudeva, 60, who retires tomorrow.

Dinesh K Sarraf The appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) rejected oil minister M Veerappa Moily's proposal to give Sudhir Vasudeva a post-retirement extension and approved the appointment of Sarraf, who is currently managing director of ONGC's overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd.

The ACC, which comprises the prime minister, home minister and the minister of the concerned ministry, approved the appointment of Sarraf based on the recommendation of the public enterprises selection board (PESB).

Moily had kicked up a storm by seeking a post-retirement extension for Vasudeva without a fresh clearance by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) days before the retirement of the ONGC chief.

Opposition BJP and the Left parties have slammed the petroleum minister for seeking an extension for Vasudeva without CVC clearance.

The petroleum ministry, in its proposal to the ACC, had stated that the vigilance clearance for Vasudeva might be taken post-facto, and that the petroleum minister recommended the extension of Vasudeva's tenure "purely on merit and in the interest of the organisation."

Sarraf, 56, was director (finance) in ONGC before moving to ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) in September 2011. Under his stewardship OVL had concluded four overseas deals worth over $11 billion. He also had all necessary clearances, including from the CVC.

On the other hand, the CVC had, on 10 February, informed the ministry that there were "a total number of six complaints / cases against Vasudeva, which are pending in the ministry and are yet to be taken to their logical conclusion".

The petroleum ministry had forwarded two sets of options to the ACC - give Vasudeva an extension or appoint Sarraf as the next chairman and managing director of ONGC.

"On advice of the department of personnel and training (DoPT) the proposal was submitted in the prescribed format for consideration of the ACC.

"DoPT also advised to obtain comments from the CVC and the matter was accordingly forwarded to CVC.

Certain observations / queries were raised by CVC regarding the pending complaints against Vasudeva.

"Considering that only few days were left for his retirement, the minister of petroleum and natural gas on recommendation of the secretary, petroleum, referred the matter back to the DoPT with complete vigilance profile of Shri Sudhir Vasudeva with a request to place the matter before the ACC for decision, as deemed appropriate," the statement said.

OVL, which has invested a total of $17 billion in 32 assets in 15 countries till 2011, made four acquisitions worth over $11 billion in the past one year alone.

These include OVL's acquisition of US energy major Anadarko Petroleum Corp's 10-per cent stake in a giant Mozambique gas field for $2.64 billion and the $2.475 billion deal in June to acquire Videocon's 10 per cent stake in the same field that has approximate reserves of 65 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas.

Sarraf a holds a master's degree in commerce from the University of Delhi. He is also a member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.