Face-to-face confrontation between Ambani and Raja in 2G scam

Swan Telecom, in which Tiger Traders Private Limited has 90.13% and Reliance Telecom has 9.87% equity share capital, has been under the scanner over alleged diversion of funds to DMK-owned Kalaignar TV

New Delhi: It was face-to-face confrontation between Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) chairman Anil Ambani and former telecom minister A Raja at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters over the issue of dual technology permit to Reliance Communications (RCom) and its alleged association with Swan Telecom, reports PTI.

The investigators repeatedly questioned the duo last evening over the equity issues of Swan Telecom for nearly an hour but both remained "non-cooperative" and stuck to their stand, sources privy to the investigations said today.

The questions pertained to whether RCom directly or through its subsidiary held more than 10% equity, a threshold for cross-holding in two services providers in the same circle, the sources said.

Swan Telecom, in which Tiger Traders Private Limited has 90.13% and Reliance Telecom has 9.87% equity share capital, has been under the scanner over alleged diversion of funds to DMK-owned Kalaignar Television.

Mr Ambani, 51, was called to the CBI headquarters yesterday for questioning by the agency in connection with the 2G spectrum scam.

DB Realty group managing director Shahid Usman Balwa, promoter of Swan telecom, is already in the CBI custody.

According to the CAG, four companies including Reliance Communications were provided CDMA-based mobile service under Unified Access Service licence.

Based on the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), use of dual technology was permitted on 17 October 2007 and RCom is alleged to have applied for the same even before the announcement of the policy.

RCom had complied with the requirements for permission to use dual technology on 19 October 2007 by depositing the non refundable entry fee of Rs1,645 crore for 20 service areas through Reliance Infocomm.

The CAG had said that acceptance of bank draft from Reliance Infocomm (third party) on behalf of Reliance Communications was not in order and showed the hurry in which the entry fee was deposited.

In a statement here, ADAG had yesterday said, "During the course of his weekly visit to New Delhi, Ambani met CBI officials to clarify ongoing issues relating to telecom matters for the years 2001 to 2010."

The ADAG statement said, "Neither Reliance Telecom nor RCom nor any Reliance ADAG individual, company or affiliate held even a single share in Swan Telecom at the time of grant of the 2G licence to them in January 2008, or at any time thereafter."

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Food inflation will come down to single-digit: FM

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said that despite seasonal fluctuations in inflation figures, the overall inflation by the end of the fiscal would be in the range of 7%

New Delhi: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today expressed optimism of food inflation coming down to single-digit as the rate of price rise of essential kitchen items moderated significantly in the first week of February, reports PTI.

"...In quite some time food inflation will also be under single-digit," Mr Mukherjee told reporters here.

Driven by high vegetable prices, food inflation was in double-digits for the past two months and even crossed 18% in the week of 25th December.

"Now it is going down and I think WPI (wholesale price index) has also come down by two percentage points. So it is good sign...," Mr Mukherjee added.

Food inflation for the week ended 5th February touched a nine-week low at 11.05% from 13.07% in the previous week.

However, Mr Mukherjee cautioned that weekly and monthly fluctuations in inflation numbers "are always deceptive".

He further said that despite seasonal fluctuations in inflation figures, the overall inflation by the end of the fiscal would be in the range of 7%.

"I hope as I mentioned earlier, by March we able to reach overall inflation of 7%," he said.

The headline inflation measured by WPI has also moderated to 8.23% in January from 8.43% in the previous month.

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Centre scraps Antrix-Dewas deal

Prime minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday that the delay in scrapping the Antrix-Dewas was "only procedural' and added that the deal had never been operationalised. He rejected suggestions that his office had held "backroom" talks with Devas

New Delhi: The controversial S-band spectrum deal between the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) commercial arm Antrix and private firm Devas Multimedia was scrapped today, reports PTI.

The decision to annul the deal was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh on the basis of a recommendation from the Space Commission.

The annulment comes in the wake of a raging controversy over the deal for handing over 70 Mhz of S-Band spectrum to the private firm for Rs1,000 crore on which the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has already initiated action.

According to certain estimates, this deal may have resulted in a loss of Rs2 lakh crore to the exchequer.

After news reports about the possible revenue loss appeared, the government and ISRO said the project was already under review and action has been initiated for termination of the contract.

The prime minister yesterday said that the deal had never been operationalised and rejected suggestions that his office had held "backroom" talks with Devas after the Space Commission's decision to scrap the deal.

He had said that if there has been delay in scrapping the deal, this has been "only procedural".

Devas Multimedia had yesterday termed as "disturbing and inappropriate" the government's "unilateral" decision to terminate the agreement and threatened to take legal action.

It said the government had reached the decision "without due investigative process and without following the principles of natural justice".

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