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2G scam: CBI questions realty, telecom firms’ top executives

2G scam: CBI questions realty, telecom firms’ top executives

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday interrogated top executives of several realty and telecom firms named in the so-called second-generation (2G) telecom spectrum allocation scandal.

A court also allowed the agency to keep two senior organizers of last year’s Commonwealth Games, Lalit Bhanot and V.K. Verma, arrested on Wednesday, in custody for five days for questioning in another corruption case.

Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd (TRIL) chairman R.K. Krishna Kumar and managing director Sanjay G. Ubale, Spice Telecom managing director Dilip Modi, Loop Telecom Pvt. Ltd chief executive Sandip Basu, Shiva Group chief executive V. Srinivasan and S Tel chief executive Shamik Das were questioned at the CBI’s headquarter in New Delhi. These companies have been linked with alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum and licences in 2008. “They were confronted with documents and facts," said a CBI official, requesting anonymity.

Ubale and Kumar were asked about the details of a Rs1,600 crore loan Tata Realty gave to Unitech Ltd when the spectrum was being awarded. Soon after getting licences for 22 telecom operating areas for Rs1,658 crore, Unitech promoters sold a 67.25% stake to Norway’s Telenor ASA for Rs6,120 crore.

Basu of Loop Telecom, which was awarded 21 licences, was asked about his company’s links with the Essar Group. Prashant Ruia, chief executive officer of Essar Group, has earlier been asked if his company used Loop as a front in getting licences.

“We have already questioned S Tel officials regarding Rs100 crore transfer from their accounts," said a second CBI official, who also requested anonymity. “The money finally reached Kalaignar TV. We suspect it’s a kickback in lieu of licences issued to them."

Kalaignar TV is owned by persons close to the leadership of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a key ally of the Congress party in the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre. DMK member and former telecom minister A. Raja, during whose tenure the 2G licences were awarded, is in jail.

An S Tel spokesperson said: “S Tel has provided all required information and documents that CBI had asked for."

Phone calls and emails sent to other companies were not answered.

A special CBI court sent Commonwealth Games organizing committee’s former secretary general Bhanot and director general Verma to five days’ CBI custody. The two are accused of unduly favouring Swiss Timing Ltd, which was awarded a Rs107 crore contract during the 3-14 October Games held in New Delhi. Several deals related to the Games are being probed.

Bhanot’s lawyer said his client had no role in awarding the contract, while Verma’s counsel contended the CBI report was “wholly scripted".

Both Bhanot and Verma are close to former organizing committee chairman and Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi, who said on Thursday that the committee members were being singled out for questioning by investigators.

PTI contributed to this story.

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