Saturday, April 2, 2011

CBI charges Raja, babus, top corporate bosses for 2G fraud

New Delhi: The CBI filed its first chargesheet in the 2G scam on Saturday in which it named former telecom minister and DMK leader Andimuthu Raja as the scam’s mastermind, while three companies — Reliance Telecom, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless — and nine individuals, among them former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, Unitech chief Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty boss and Swan Telecom MD Shahid Balwa and DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka, have been named as co-conspirators.
Assessing that the scam has cost the exchequer Rs 30,985 crore, which is considerably lower than the CAG’s presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 crore, the CBI said Raja threw norms and rules to the wind, devised his own way of granting telecom licences, brushed aside the firstcome-first-served principle, misled the prime minister, disregarded the concerns of other ministries and ran a parallel office at his residence to grant licences to whosoever offered him gratification.
The chargesheet filed before the designated 2G case judge O P Saini, also names as coconspirators Raja’s private secretary R K Chandolia, Reliance ADAG’s group managing director Gautam Doshi, its group president Surendra Pipara and senior vice-president Hair Nair. The CBI chargesheet hints that the agency is closing in on DMK-owned Kalaignar TV and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi on the Rs 200-crore investment in the television channel routed circuitously by DB Realty.
“Investigations revealed that in furtherance of the conspiracy Dynamix Realty, a partnership firm of DB Realty and other DB group companies, paid Rs 200 crores to Kalaignar TV during December 2008 to August 2009, following a route through Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables (a DB group company) and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd (DB group holds 49% equity in it,” it said.
All accused face charges of cheating, conspiracy, forgery and corruption. The agency corroborated the PM’s contention that his word of caution was not heeded by Raja when it said, “The suggestion from the high office of Prime Minister that availability of spectrum had to be assessed before committing to issue licenses, and that a licence without requisite spectrum meant nothing to a telecom operator, were brushed aside by Raja, as adherence to these directions would have foiled his design to unduly favour the applicant companies with which he was conspiring”.
Reliance Telecom, which is part of the ADAG group headed by Anil Ambani has been accused of playing a key role in circumventing the norm that would have disqualified Swan because its controlling company, the ADAG, was already a mobile telecom service provider. The chargesheet says the board minutes of Swan was fudged to show that Reliance held only 9.9% share in Swan, just 0.1% less than the disqualifying share holding, whereas it fully held Swan. The CBI said Raja “was already familiar with accused Sahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka and Sanjay Chandra in context of various clearances of ministry of environment and forest (given by Raja as environment minister) to various real estate projects of their companies — DB Realty Ltd and Unitech Ltd”.
Even Tata Tele Services Ltd and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd were accused of wrong doing and currying favour with Raja who fraudulently allowed them to jump ahead in the application seniority queue. But, no official from these two companies have been named in the chargesheet. While Raja, Behura, Balwa and Chandolia are already in custody, the CBI court has summoned the other 5 chargesheeted accused to appear before it on April 13 for further proceedings.
The CBI alleged that Raja and his associates hatched a conspiracy with the corporate houses and their officers to arbitrarily advance the cutoff date for spectrum application from October 1, 2007 to September 25, 2007, to eliminate many eligible applicants with a clear motive to favour Swan and Unitech.

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