CBI questions Videocon’s Dhoot, brother, in 2G probe

Confronts the two with documents of change in share capital of Datacom Services

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today questioned Videocon group chairman Venugopal Dhoot and his brother Rajkumar Dhoot, who is also a member of the Rajya Sabha, in the continuing probe into the alleged irregularities related to the grant of telecom licences in 2008.

The two were called to the CBI headquarters, where they were questioned for over seven hours and confronted with documents on the change in their share capital in Datacom Services from Rs1 lakh to Rs150 crore, official sources said here today, reports PTI. Datacom, since renamed Videocon Telecommunications, is an unlisted subsidiary of Videocon Industries.

Dhoot is the latest high-profile Indian industrialist to have been called by the CBI after Anil Ambani met with investigators on 16th February, and Prashant Ruia, Essar CEO, and Sanjay Chandra, managing director of property developer Unitech, earlier.

The agency is investigating allegations of manipulation and favouritism in the allotment of licences and bandwidth at prices set in 2001. It says irregularities in the allotment resulted in a potential revenue loss of nearly Rs22,000 crore. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the country’s top auditor, has estimated the potential loss at Rs1,76,000 crore and said that some of the firms which got mobile licences benefited from the alleged scam.

CBI sources said that the statement of Videocon company secretary submitted to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), claiming change in the share capital, was also shown to them and the two were asked to explain the minutes of the meeting of an extraordinary general body of the company held on 27 August 2007.

The company could not be contacted for comments.

The CAG in its report had alleged that Datacom Solutions, while submitting its application for 22 licences on 28t August 2007, had “made a false claim of the paid-up capital of Rs150 crore through the company secretary, although documents attached with indicated that the authorised share capital of the company as Rs1 lakh only”. Since the requirement of the requisite amount of the paid-up capital was an important eligibility criterion, their applications ought to have been rejected forthwith.

However, on 27 November 2007, the company suo motto submitted a so-called “correct” version of documents as on 28 August 2007, stating that they had submitted an old version of documents inadvertently along with the application. “The new version of memorandum of association and articles of association claimed to have increased the authorised share capital from Rs 1 lakh to Rs150 crore through an ordinary resolution passed in the extraordinary general meeting on 27 August 2007, a day preceding the date of submission of applications by the company.

“Since there is a procedure prescribed in the Companies Act for effecting increase in the authorised share capital of a company, the company could under no circumstances have a paid-up capital of Rs150 crore on 28 August 2007 and hence the certificate furnished by the company secretary of the company appeared to be false,” the CAG report said.

It alleged that DoT “failed miserably” to do any due diligence in the examination of claims of the company even when company claimed to have passed the resolution enhancing the authorised share capital on the preceding day of the date of application of the applicant company.


Anand Mahindra offers to resign from NACIL board

Writes to civil aviation minister saying that M&M’s expanding aerospace business could result in a conflict of interest

New Delhi: Mahindra & Mahindra vice-chairman Anand Mahindra today offered to resign from the board of National Aviation Company of India (NACIL), which operates state-owned Air India, citing conflict of interest. In a letter to civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi, Mr Mahindra sought permission to step down from the NACIL board.

"The recently concluded Aero-India 2011 at Bangalore has thrown up business opportunities for my company Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, which was a potential conflict of interest and thereby throws up questions of good board practice. Hence my request," Mr Mahindra said in the letter.

Mr Mahindra was among the independent directors appointed to the the NACIL board in March 2010, along with air chief marshal Fali H Major (Retd), FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra and Ambuja Realty group chairman Harsh Neotia, reports PTI.

Mahindra said his firm had fruitful discussions with international aerospace corporations, encouraging the group to aspire to become a leading components player. "We are developing the capability to supply components to major suppliers from where Air India sources its aircraft. In view of this and the favourable business prospects, which recently emerged for M&M's aeronautical business in Bangalore, I feel that my continuing as a director of NACIL would not be in accordance with the highest standards of corporate governance," Mr Mahindra wrote.

M&M made its foray into the aerospace business in 2009, acquiring a 75.1% stake each in two Australian aerospace firms-Aerostaff Australia and Gippsland Aeronautics-for Rs175 crore, and it planned to make aircraft and allied components to service the global market.


BP ties up with RIL for 23 oil blocks; to pay $7.2 bn for 30% stake

Europe’s second biggest oil firm to also set up 50:50 joint venture to source and market gas

New Delhi: BP Plc, Europe's second biggest oil company, has agreed to tie-up with Reliance Industries (RIL), buying a 30% stake for a payment of $7.2 billion in 23 oil and gas blocks, including the giant KG-D6 gas fields, and a 50:50 joint venture to source and market gas, RIL said in a statement today. BP could pay a further $1.8 billion on exploration success that result in development of commercial discoveries.

BP CEO Bob Dudley and RIL chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani signed the relationship framework and transactional agreements in London and they are scheduled to make a joint announcement later today, reports PTI.  

"The partnership across the full value chain comprises BP taking a 30% stake in 23 oil and gas production sharing contracts that Reliance operates in India. This includes producing KG-D6 block and the formation of a 50:50 joint venture between the two companies for sourcing and marketing of gas in India," it said. The joint venture will also endeavour to accelerate the creation of infrastructure for receiving, transporting and marketing of natural gas in India.

Reliance said the partnership will combine BP's world class deepwater exploration and development capabilities with Reliance's project management and operations expertise.

"This partnership meets BP's strategy of forming alliances with strong national partners, taking material positions in significant hydrocarbon basins and increasing our exposure to growing energy markets," said Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of BP.

The 23 oil and gas blocks together cover approximately 270,000 sq km. Reliance will continue to be the operator of the blocks.


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