A Supreme Court bench directed the agency to file its report on the probe into the money trail by 31st May and posted the matter for further hearing on 6th July
New Delhi: A team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's premier investigation agency, officers would be leaving for Mauritius next week to track the trail of money invested in various telecom companies involved in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam, CBI told the Supreme Court on Friday.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal appearing for the investigating agency said the team would be leaving on 16th May and will file its report before the court on the investigation done by it, reports PTI.
A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly directed the agency to file its report on the probe into the money trail by 31st May and posted the matter for further hearing on 6th July.
The bench also directed the CBI to expedite its enquiry against a journalist who had allegedly tried to bribe an Enforcement Directorate (ED) official who was inquiring into 2G scam.
Mr Venugopal also informed the court that teams of ED officials would also be going to five foreign countries in tracking the money trail involved in 2G scam.
The bench also wanted to know from him about the progress into the probe based on the status report filed by the CBI relating to 10 destinations abroad.
"Some team is going to Mauritius on 16th May. Is there a plan for the CBI team to go to any other destination?" the bench asked.
"It is an untiring crusade," the bench said when advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for and NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said top people from the telecom companies allegedly involved in the scam should be charge sheeted.
"How can they (CBI) wash its hands? All people right to the top should be charge sheeted," he said.
The bench also said that arguments of the petitioner NGO seeking appointment of committee to assist the court in monitoring the case required serious consideration.
The CBI also placed before the bench its probe report on journalist Upendra Rai against whom a complaint was filed by ED official for allegedly trying to bribe him.
The bench after going through the report said that findings were "quite serious" and directed the agency to expedite the inquiry against him.
The court asked the agency to submit its report on 6th July.
The apex court had earlier agreed to look into the issue of Mr Rai, director (news) Sahara News Network, over allegations that he had tried to bribe one of the ED officers by offering to give him Rs2 crore to benefit corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.
While setting aside the orders passed by the Sessions Court, the HC has allowed a revision application by VMoksha's co-founder Rajiv Sawhney against H&M
The Bombay High Court has set aside the orders of the Sessions Court and allowed a revision application of VMoksha Technologies co-founder Rajiv Sawhney against Helios & Matheson Information Technology (H&M).
In an order passed on 6 May 2011, Justice JH Bhatia restored the order of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) of the 47th Court, Mumbai, to restart proceedings against the accused, including H&M's chairman V Ramachandran. This has come as a reprieve to Mr Sawhney, a US-based non-resident Indian (NRI), who is fighting a long battle with H&M.
Judge Bhatia said,"the Additional Sessions Judge, on the basis of facts disclosed in the complaint, had also come to the conclusion that a prima facie case was made out. Having come to such a conclusion, the judge embarked upon the consideration of other grounds and quashed the order, which was well-reasoned and based on facts disclosed in the complaint. Therefore, in my opinion, it is a fit case where this Court should, under its inherent power under Section 482, interfere and quash the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge."
Advocate Rahil Moghe, counsel of Mr Sawhney, told Moneylife that the process will now begin from where it was stopped. The court has also order all the parties to appear before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on 4 July 2011, he said.
"On 18 January 2007, the chief magistrate issued a process against all the accused, including H&M. This was challenged by them in the Sessions Court, where the decision was quashed on various grounds. We then challenged this decision at the Bombay High Court, which has now quashed the decision of Sessions Court and has upheld the decision of the learned magistrate," Mr Moghe said.
Moneylife has previously reported about the bruising battle between H&M and Rajeev Sawhney (Read, Helios & Matheson Under The Scanner ). Moneylife has also reported on how the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), had fined H&M Rs50 lakh for making false announcements to influence the stock price and hiding information about acquisition of vMoksha. (Read, Helios & Matheson fined Rs50 lakh by SEBI for financial irregularities; vMoksha co-founder also penalised )
The case dates back to 2005, when shareholders of vMoksha, an IT company, decided to sell its three units. The company appointed PriceWaterhouseCooper, who found out H&M as potential buyer for vMoksha's three units. On 11 May 2005, both the companies signed a share purchase agreement under which V Ramachandran, chairman of H&M, was to pay $19 million for the three units, out of which $4 million was to be paid to Pawan Kumar, the then chief executive of vMoksha and also former CEO of the controversial DSQ Software, as earn out. Although, Pawan Kumar and his family members were also stakeholders in vMoksha, Mr Sawhney later bought out their stake as well.
Mr Ramachandran was supposed to pay $13.4 million to Mr Sawhney, after paying some amount to Tapan Garg and Madhuri Garg, son and wife of Pawan Kumar for their holding. Mr Sawhney soon realised that he had been kept in the dark about many aspects of the deal.
For instance, he found that instead of receiving $19 million, a bank account had been 'fraudulently' opened in the State Bank of Mauritius in vMoksha's name and used to borrow $13.5 million, using a fake board sanction and false entries. That money was remitted to H&M ostensibly for subscription of redeemable preference shares on 28 June 2005.
The regional director of the MCA conducted a technical scrutiny of H&M and found that the loan was, indeed, obtained by falsifying the board minutes and making false entries. Worse, the H&M chairman provided a personal guarantee for this borrowing by vMoksha, even before acquiring the company or transferring any funds for its acquisition. The State Bank of Mauritius allegedly approved the loan, although the loan documents were unsigned and on plain sheets of paper instead of the company's letterhead.
On 30th June, the same funds were transferred back to vMoksha ostensibly as part of the acquisition amount and were used to pay back the dubious loan. According to Mr Sawhney, this was to defraud him and other shareholders of the subsidiaries of vMoksha. He contended that for this purpose, Pawan Kumar had entered into a conspiracy with the State Bank of Mauritius, Ravi Kumar, who was manager of State Bank of Mauritius's Chennai branch and H&M, Mr Ramachandran, GK Muralikrishna, managing director of H&M and Maharashtra. Pawan Kumar created the forged and fabricated documents to show that he was authorised to open the account to obtain the loan and to transmit that amount to the account of H&M.
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In the assembly elections Asim Dasgupta, who has been heading the Empowered Group of state finance ministers on GST since its inception, lost to TMC candidate and Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra by a margin of over 26,000 votes
New Delhi: With the Left losing power in West Bengal, the Empowered Group of state finance ministers, which is currently engaged in building a consensus on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), will have to find a replacement for Asim Dasgupta who has been heading the body since its inception, reports PTI.
As West Bengal finance minister, Mr Dasgupta was involved with the Empowered Group for more than a decade. Earlier, he was the convenor of the VAT panel and played a key role in implementing the new tax regime.
As chairman of the Empowered Group, Mr Dasgupta was engaged in preparing a blue print for implementation of the GST along with other state finance ministers.
In the assembly elections, Mr Dasgupta lost to TMC candidate and Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra by a margin of over 26,000 votes.
The view that seems to be emerging is that the new chairman of the Empowered Group should be somebody who has experience of serving in the body.
"As a chairman of the group, we would prefer somebody more experienced in handling intricacies of party politics," said one of the members of the body.
This stance goes against the view in some quarters that Mr Mitra is a favourite to replace Mr Dasgupta.
"Mr Mitra, if he is allocated the finance portfolio, would have his hands full with affairs back in West Bengal. He should be focusing on that," the member said.
The new chairman will have a tough task of bringing a consensus among states and the central government on the GST.
"At this moment it is premature to speculate about who the chairman of the Empowered Group would be. Not only West Bengal, but two other very important states-Tamil Nadu and Kerala-have witnessed change in governments and would be having new faces as finance ministers," Madhya Pradesh finance minister Mr Raghavji said.
He said any decision in this regard has to be unanimous.
"A decision would be reached only on the basis of consensus among state governments, besides taking on board the view of the central government. This will also mean consensus between the Congress and the BJP, who are two major political parties in India," Mr Raghavji said.
"Mr Dasgupta worked very hard during his tenure as chairman of the Empowered Group. Whoever becomes the new chairman will have a big task before him, especially in taking ahead the matter of GST" he added.
In the Budget Session last year, the government had introduced the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha which seeks to pave the way for the Goods and Services Tax.
The new GST regime would subsume most of the indirect taxes like excise duty and service tax at the central level and VAT on the state front, besides local levies.
The implementation of GST, which is considered to be a major tax reform, has been stuck for the past few years due to differences between the Centre and some states over the new structure.
The Bill was the fourth draft prepared by the Centre after the first three drafts were rejected by the states, citing autonomy issues.
However, a few states, mainly those ruled by the BJP, continue to oppose the existing GST structure.
After missing the original April 2010 deadline for GST rollout, the government had proposed to introduce it in April 2011.