New Delhi: Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group denied on Friday three executives charged in a multi-billion dollar telecom scandal had retracted their statements in a court case.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lawyer told the Supreme Court on Thursday the three jailed men had retracted their testimony taking responsibility for decisions made by a unit of Reliance Communications (RCom), according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).
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The CBI have said a unit of RCom broke rules to gain valuable spectrum in 2008.
PTI reported that CBI were examining Ambani’s role in the telecom licensing case. However, a CBI source told Reuters on Thursday the agency was currently collecting evidence and not yet directly investigating Ambani.
There was “no change in stand by any of the Reliance executives,” Ambani’s Reliance Group said in a statement, adding that neither the Reliance Communications unit nor the founder group benefited from telecom licences issued in January 2008.
Shares in the Reliance Group companies, including RCom, Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Power and Reliance Capital opened sharply lower on Friday, underperforming the broader market.
RCom shares were down 4.6% in late morning trade, while Reliance Infrastructure was down 5.5%, Reliance Capital was off 7% and Reliance Power was down 3.7%.
The sprawling telecom scandal has affected several prominent companies and is the biggest of several to emerge in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s second term. It has thrown a spotlight on leading industrialists and politicians and slowed Singh’s agenda of economic reforms.
India’s No.2 mobile carrier, Reliance Communications, is controlled by Ambani. The lawyer said the police were trying to establish who the real beneficiaries of the alleged scam were, and said they were looking at Ambani himself, according to PTI.
Ambani, India’s eighth-richest man according to Forbes, is the highest-profile executive to be touched by investigation. The 52-year-old tycoon was questioned by the CBI earlier this year, but denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.
The CBI accuse the Reliance Group unit and the executives of setting up a front company to sidestep rules limiting stakeholdings in telecom companies.