In the electoral bonds data released by the Election Commission, one name stood out – Hub Power Company.

Shortly after the preliminary analysis of the data, news outlets and social media platforms buzzed with reports that Pakistan-based Hub Power Company Limited had purchased bonds worth Rs 95 lakh in April 2019, months after the Pulwama attack. The company, speculated to be Pakistan’s largest independent power producer, did not make any further bond purchases after 2019.

Many claimed – without proof – that the bond money was encashed by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

So, is Hub Power Company really a Pakistani firm?

Our investigation revealed that no company by this name has been registered with the Union corporate ministry. But a Google search led to one “Hub Power Company”, located at Delhi’s Geeta Colony, with Ravi Mehra as its director, and a registered GST number.

Its purported “office” was locked when we reached the residential area. Residents said a man named Ravi Arora used to live there, not Ravi Mehra.

Arora is reportedly a government employee and works as a principal private secretary at the Central government’s revenue department.

His neighbour Anil said: “Ravi Arora has lived here for a long time. His wife works at LIC [Life Insurance Company], father was in DTC [Delhi Transport Corporation'] and he himself is with the government’s revenue department. After the pandemic, they left this locality, but the house is still in their name. To our knowledge, he does not have any business.”

However, an elderly woman living in the same locality claimed that Arora has an electricity business. “Whenever the electricity went off, we would come to him and he would help us.”

We managed to track Arora down. He denied owning any company named Hub Power.

Arora said even when his family lived there, police and bank officials would come at times in connection with a loan default. “But the person they look for is Ravi Mehra, who lives on the second floor of 2/40 in Old Geeta Colony.”

The Old Geeta Colony is about 100 metres away from Arora’s house. But residents deny that anyone named Ravi Mehra lives in the neighbourhood.

Kamal Sethi, who owns house number 40 and runs a dairy store in the locality, said he had “never heard of this name” and police or bank officials had never came searching for Ravi Mehra at his house.

‘Fraud’, and an Arora-Mehra mix up

The Delhi government’s GST department said Hub Power was a “fake company”, which was eventually shut down.

A senior official at the department said the company was ostensibly set up “to commit fraud”. “We found out that the company did not do the business it claimed to do. The department took suo motu cognisance and cancelled its registration.”

The official said that “only a photograph was provided for the GST registration and no other document”. Notably, in regular practice, the Aadhaar and PAN card details are also required for GST registration, but the department official said that a lot of times, “fraudsters get away with all this”.

This report is part of a collaborative project involving three news organisations – Newslaundry, Scroll, The News Minute – and several independent journalists.

Project Electoral Bond includes Aban Usmani, Anand Mangnale, Anisha Sheth, Anjana Meenakshi, Ayush Tiwari, Azeefa Fathima, Basant Kumar, Dhanya Rajendran, Jayashree Arunachalam, Joyal George, M Rajshekhar, Maria Teresa Raju, Nandini Chandrashekar, Neel Madhav, Nikita Saxena, Parth MN, Pooja Prasanna, Prajwal Bhat, Prateek Goyal, Pratyush Deep, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Raman Kirpal, Ravi Nair, Sachi Hegde, Shabbir Ahmed, Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, Siddhartha Mishra, Supriya Sharma, Sudipto Mondal, Tabassum Barnagarwala and Vaishnavi Rathore.