New Delhi/Chennai: In a crackdown here and in several places in Tamil Nadu in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, the CBI on Wednesday searched the office and residential premises of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia, former Trai chairman Pradip Baijal and a Chennai NGO with which DMK MP Kanimozhi is linked.
Radia’s office - Vaishnavi Corporate Communications in Central Delhi - and her farm house in South Delhi were among the first of the premises to be searched by the CBI, sources said, adding some of the persons who had been closely associated with the handling of accounts and funds of former telecom minister A Raja were also been searched by the agency.
Radia, Baijal and alleged hawala dealers - brothers Mahesh Jain and Alok Jain alias Bobby - were questioned during the raids, the sources said.
The raids come a week after the searches in the residences of Raja in Delhi and in his native place Perambalur and a number of others.
The residence of Baijal, who retired in 2006 after serving as Telecom Regulation Authority of India (Trai) chairman for nearly three years, was being also searched in connection with the scam in which CBI has registered a case of loss of Rs 22,000 crore.
An IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, Baijal is currently working with Radia’s firm Noesis. The allegation against him was that as the chairman of the regulatory body, which makes recommendations to government, he had helped some telecom firms.
Apart from Radia, the searches were carried out in the premises of Baijal in nearby Noida, Kamaraj, associate editor of Tamil magazine in Chennai Nakkeran, Raja’s brother and sister near Tiruchirappalli and Tamil Maiyam, an NGO in which Kanimozhi is on the Board of Directors.
Tamil Maiyam, which describes itself as a registered non-profit organization, is headed by Rev.Jegath Gasper Raj.
Sources said the searches were carried out to find out the probable links between alleged hawala operators and former A Raja, whose premises were being searched today in Perambalur.
Kamraj and the Jain brothers have been under the scanner of the CBI for some time in connection with the investigations into the scam.
An export office in Chawri Bazar in Delhi was also searched by the CBI, the sources said, adding the firm is alleged to have been used for transfer of funds.
About 150 sleuths of the investigating agency swooped down at 27 places in Tamil Nadu and seven in Delhi in the wee hours and began searches which included some auditors and accountants of Raja.
A former IAS officer of 1966 batch, Baijal was the first disinvestment secretary after the ministry was formed.
The CBI had on December eight carried out searches at the residence of Raja and his four close associates including his personal secretary R K Chandolia in connection with the scam.
47-year-old Raja was forced to resign as minister on 14 November in the wake of the CAG’s report that the rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
Raids were also conducted at the residences of former telecom secretary Siddarth Behura, Chandolia, member Telecom Commission K Sridhar and deputy director General in the Department of Telecom A K Srivastava.
Raja has been maintaining that he was ready for questioning by the CBI any time.
The CBI had registered a case on 21 October, 2009 against unknown Department of Telecom officials and private persons and companies for allegedly causing loss of Rs 22,000 crore to the exchequer.
The figure of the loses mentioned in the agency’s FIR were based on the findings of Central Vigilance Commission which had referred the case to the CBI.
The CBI has earlier searched offices of Wireless Planning Cell (WPC), the department responsible for allocating Spectrum, and the office of Deputy Director General (Access Services) of the Telecom Ministry to probe the allegations of connivance of officials with private companies in allocation of Spectrum.
It had also conducted searches in eight cities housing headquarters of various telecom firms in connection with its probe into the scam.