Saturday, April 2, 2011

ADAG fully owned Swan: CBI

New Delhi: The CBI’s chargesheet on Saturday corroborated the CAG’s finding that, when the 2G scam tainted Swan Telecom had filed its application in March 2007, the Anil Ambani Dhirubhai Group (ADAG) had violated the 10% cap on equity holding in more than one applicant.
But there is a huge difference in the findings of the two agencies on the extent to which ADAG is alleged to have owned Swan Telecom. While the CAG rather controversially clubbed preference shares with equity shares to conclude that ADAG held 10.7% of the voting stake in Swan Telecom, the CBI on the basis of evidence available with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) alleged that ADAG had held 100% stake in Swan Telecom. This is because Tiger Traders, which held 90.1% of the equity in Swan Telecom at the time of its application, was found to be as much an ADAG company as Reliance Telecom, which held 9.9% of the equity in Swan Telcom at the relevant time.
It was thanks to this discovery about the antecedents of Swan Telecom that the CBI implicated three ADAG executives, group managing director Gautam Doshi and senior vice-presidents Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara, for filing an application that was ineligible and fraudulent and then transferring the management and control of that controversial company to Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka after Reliance Communications had obtained approval for dual technology spectrum in October 2007.
The charge flies in the face of the defence put up by ADAG that it could not be held to account for the unified access services (UAS) licences obtained by Swan Telecom in January 2008 because it had by then divested all its shareholding in that company.
The chargesheet pinned down ADAG officials as they “knowingly did not withdraw their fraudulent application for UAS licences ... thereby intentionally aiding/facilitating Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka to get UAS licences for Swan Telecom despite full knowledge that the company was ineligible on the date of application,” as it was in violation of the substantial equity clause.
The chargesheet also pointed out that though allegations about ADAG’s substantial equity in Swan Telecom at the time of its application had been received by the department of telecommunications, those complaints were not considered by the then telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and the then telecom minister A Raja as they had entered into a “criminal conspiracy” with Balwa and Goenka, “abused their official position and without initiating any inquiry ... allowed the said ineligible company to get letter of intent, UAS licence and spectrum”.

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