Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CBI questions brass of 9 telcos

NEW DELHI: CBI has accelerated its task of identifying the main beneficiaries of the 2G scam , masterminded by former Telecom Minister A Raja , ahead of the March 1 deadline set by the Supreme Court. Senior functionaries of S-Tel and Unitech, Loop Telecom, Swan Telecom and Reliance Communications have been questioned about their role in the scam in the last few days. 

The investigating agency has already conducted one round of examining of officials of all 9 telecom companies which were conferred the 2G licences in 2008, and is in the process of interrogating them again. According to CBI, the charges against the companies which were awarded a total of 122 licences across 22 circles in 2008, fall broadly in three categories. They are, violation of the first-come-first-served policy, tampering of cut-off date for licences and failure to meet the eligibility criteria. The charges against most companies fall under any of the three categories or more. 

In its status report before the apex court last week, CBI described it as multiple-conspiracies. CBI had last week arrested DB Realty promoter and Swan (now called Etisalat DB) director Shahid Balwa in connection with the scam. The prosecution claimed that Balwa had entered into a conspiracy with some private companies to cause a loss to the exchequer. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report last November said priority lists in Punjab and Maharashtra were tweaked to benefit Swan in spectrum allocation. 

In the same report , CAG had alleged that S-Tel was not eligible for getting six mobile permits . The national auditor found that the company had submitted false certificate from the company secretary. S-Tel Chief Operating Officer Shamik Das said CBI had asked for information from all companies who got licences in 2008 and there were no specific charges against the company. He said the company had for its interaction with CBI sent its official representative. 

A Unitech spokeswoman said pursuant to the Supreme Court order, all the 9 telecom companies which received the licenses were being questioned by the agencies and was not specific to any one company. Unitech is a responsible corporate, functioning within the guidelines prescribed by the government and has been fully co-operating with the investigating agency, she said. 

RCOM CEO Wireless Syed Safawi said CBI was reportedly examining a large number of telecom companies and their officials from across the entire telecom industry in relation to various matters for 2001-2008 . “We are fully co-operating with the authorities in this regard, and will continue to extend all assistance as required to enable them to complete their investigations ,’’ he said.source

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