MAS CFO to advise Odisha in “personal capacity”; State ranked as second most corrupted in India

Last Friday (13 Sep), India’s mainstream media reported that the Indian state government of Odisha has appointed the “well-known development strategist and financial expert”, Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, as its advisor of digital and financial technology. He will enjoy the rank and status of an Indian minister of state, said the news report.

His job as the Odisha’s state advisor includes giving suggestions to the various ministers in the state as well as working in co-ordination with the chief minister’s office. It is said that he would have a key role in preparation of annual budgets for the Indian state.

Mr Mohanty himself who is hailed from Odisha, is currently also working as the Chief Fintech Officer of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Part of his responsibilities is to ensure safety and security in the use of FinTech in Singapore.

Subsequently, a netizen emailed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, DPM Heng Swee Keat, former Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Minister Shanmugam as well as other alternative media platforms, asking why Mohanty could go work in India and still get to keep his job in MAS. He also raised the alarm of potential conflict of interests with Mohanty wearing two hats, one in Singapore government and the other in an Indian state government.

MAS replied on Tuesday (17 Sep) essentially saying there is no conflict of interests because Mohanty is advising the Odisha government in his “personal capacity”.

“He is not appointed as a Minister of State and is not part of the Odisha Government,” said MAS. “Mr Mohanty was approached by the Odisha Government to advise them on enhancing financial inclusion through the use of FinTech and digital technologies. He does so in his personal capacity and will not draw any compensation. It does not conflict with his role as the Chief FinTech Officer in the Monetary Authority of Singapore.”

“As Chief FinTech Officer in MAS, Mr Mohanty’s mandate is to help develop the FinTech sector in Singapore and help create new jobs in this space. He has played a key role in establishing Singapore as a leading global FinTech hub,” MAS added.

NCRB data: Odisha 2nd most corrupted state in India

Meanwhile, on the same day of Mohanty’s appointment as advisor to the Odisha government, it was reported that the state has also dismissed as many as 16 government officials after they were convicted on corruption charges.

With this, the state has dismissed a total of 37 government officials in the past one month after their corruption charges were proven in court. Twnety one were sacked last month with 15 on 17 Aug and 6 on 31 Aug.

In fact, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data released in end 2017, the Indian state of the Odisha is the second most corrupted state in India after the state of Maharashtra.

It sure looks like Mohanty would have an uphill task “advising” the Odisha government with so much corruptions happening in the state.