New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday told the Supreme Court it is still investigating businessman Anil Ambani and his Reliance Group in the second-generation (2G) spectrum allocation case, following allegations by public interest petitioners that the agency was not going after the “big fish”.
Investigators are looking into who could be the “real beneficiaries” of the alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum and licences, CBI lawyer K.K. Venugopal said.
Anil Ambani, chairman, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
He hinted that three Reliance executives arrested in the case could turn approvers and help the agency. Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara are lodged in New Delhi’s Tihar jail.
“We have not given any clean chit to Anil or his company. We are probing who are the real beneficiaries of the sale of Reliance’s 9.9% stake in Swan (Telecom),” a CBI officer said. “The letter rogatories sent to Maurtius have come back with some information and it is being pursued further. Fresh letter rogatories have been sent to Switzerland.”
Another CBI officer said the agency has maintained the same position from the outset. “This was our position before the Supreme Court earlier,” he said.
Both officers asked not to be named.
CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which probes money laundering and foreign exchange law violations, had sought information from Mauritius about Loop Telecom and the real beneficiaries of the sale of Reliance’s 9.9% stake in Swan Telecom, which is now known as Etisalat DB Teleservices Pvt. Ltd, to Delphi Investments.
Delphi Investments, Mavi Investments and a Switzerland-based company are under the scanner, the CBI told the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The CBI, however, quashed some allegations against some other entities named in the scandal, including Tata Teleservices, Videocon Datacom and attorney general Goolam E. Vahanvati.
Tata was dealt with unjustly as the company was not given licences and spectrum because of former telecom minister A. Raja distributing letters of intent out of turn, the CBI said.
There was no evidence against Venugopal Dhoot-owned Videocon, the investigators said. And Vahanvati could not be held culpable for giving a legal opinion, argued CBI’s lawyer Venugopal.
Vahanvati is incidentally a witness in the case as Raja, who had to resign last year after the scandal broke and has since been jailed, allegedly forged a document claiming that the then solicitor general had signed off on it.
The CBI also added that Tata group’s Voltas had not given land to anyone associated with Raja’s party, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK).
Donations made to Tamil Maiyam, a non-governmental organization run by DMK member of parliament K. Kanimozhi by Tata, Reliance, Shyam Telelink and other companies just before the licence allocation process in 2007-08 by Raja are under investigation, the CBI said. Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, is also in jail.
The CBI told the court the timing of these donations was suspicious and they were continuing to probe the matter, although no conclusions could be drawn as yet.