Swan, Loop used as front companies to secure spectrum illegally, CBI tells SC

Investigating agency says while Swan was used by RCom, Loop was used by Essar, and that both Swan and Loop will face charges of cheating and conspiracy

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today informed the Supreme Court that Swan Telecom and Loop Telecom were used as front companies by established telecom players to get 2G spectrum illegally during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja.

The agency, which filed a status report in a sealed envelope before a bench of judges GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, said Swan Telecom and Loop Telecom were allegedly used as front companies by the Reliance Group (ADAG) and Essar respectively. Essar already has a stake in Vodafone.
Swam Telecom's promoter Shahid Usman Balwa has been arrested by the CBI, and Reliance Communication's chairman Anil Ambani has also appeared before the agency in the 2G spectrum case, reports PTI.

The CBI submitted before the Court that Swan and Loop hid details about their companies to get spectrum and that they would face charges of "cheating" and "criminal conspiracy".

The agency said that there was evidence of "forgery" in altering the first-come-first-serve policy, to allow some companies to get 2G spectrum during Mr Raja's tenure as telecom minister.

The CBI said the main charge-sheet will be filed on 2nd April against four individuals including Mr Raja, some telecom officials and two companies for their involvement in the scam. It said that a supplementary charge-sheet would be filed by 25th April and investigations in the matter would be completed by 31st May 2011.

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, placed a transcript of the telephonic conversation of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with top corporate honchos and politicians and said, "these telephonic records will be used as evidence in criminal prosecution of the accused in the scam."

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SC allows CBI time till April 2 to file 2G charge-sheet

CBI had requested for more time to complete its 80,000-page document that will initially include charges against former telecom minister A Raja and two companies

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today allowed a two-day extension to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) till 2nd April, to file its charge-sheet against former telecom minister A Raja and others in the 2G spectrum allocation case, after the agency said it required some more time to complete an 80,000-page document for submission.

In their status reports on the probe into the scam that was given to the court in a sealed cover, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed the bench of judges GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly that the case involved large-scale violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act and benami transactions.

Earlier, the court had given the CBI a 31st March deadline for this. After going through the progress report, the bench allowed the CBI two more days, PTI reports.

The ED, in its report, said in violation of RBI guidelines, foreign money was invested in many telecom companies, after they were granted licences during Mr Raja's tenure as telecom minister. Giving new details, the ED informed the court that Rs106.95 crore was received by a telecom company in lieu of just one share, when the market value of the share was just Rs270.

The apex court was also informed by the ED that it would start attaching and confiscating the properties of erring telecom companies for violating FEMA, soon after filing the charge-sheet. The ED also informed the court about various investments made in telecom companies, many of which originated from several foreign countries.

It said most of these transactions took place after licences were given to the telecom firms during Mr Raja's tenure. It told the court that a joint team of the CBI and the ED would be sent to foreign countries, beginning from Mauritius, to track the foreign investment in the telecom companies involved in the 2G scam.

The ED also placed before the court transcripts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's telephonic conversations with various people, which were tapped by the Income-Tax Department.

The Delhi government on Monday issued a notification designating additional sessions judge Om Prakash Saini as a special judge to exclusively undertake the trial of the 2G scam case. In a separate notification, the finance ministry designated his court as a special court to deal with offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Judge Saini had dealt with the case as special CBI judge and all the matters connected with the scam, including the private complaint by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy that is now pending before him.

The CBI and the ED had informed the court that the charge-sheet would be filed against the former minister on charges including corruption, money laundering, cheating and forgery. It told the court that while the first charge-sheet would be against Mr Raja and two companies, later on charges would be filed against other accused persons.

"This is only the beginning and many people and companies would also be charge-sheeted later on," the CBI told the bench which had asked the agency to appoint a suitable prosecutor for the trial. "Look out for the best man. We want the most competent person to be appointed as the special public prosecutor and he will deal with no other case," the judges said.

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Six core sector growth up 6.8% in February

The output of the six core infrastructure industries-crude oil, petroleum refinery products, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel-grew by 6.8% in February buoyed by healthy expansion of sectors like crude oil, petroleum refinery products and finished steel

New Delhi: The output of the six core infrastructure industries-crude oil, petroleum refinery products, coal, electricity, cement and finished steel-grew by 6.8% in February from 4.2% in the previous corresponding period. The growth was supported by healthy expansion of sectors like crude oil, petroleum refinery products and finished steel, reports PTI.

In January, 2011, the output of the core infrastructure sectors grew by 7.1%. These core industries account for 26.68% of India's total industrial output.

Petroleum refinery and crude oil output grew by 3.2% and 12.2% in February from 0.7% and 4% respectively in the same period last year, data released by the industry ministry today revealed.

Electricity generation grew by 7.2% in the month under review compared to 6.9% in February 2010, the data showed.

Finished steel production, too, registered a healthy growth of 11.5% in February from a contraction of 0.2% in the corresponding period last year.

However, coal output contracted by 5.7% in contrast to 6.7% expansion in the corresponding period last year.

Growth in cement production slowed to 6.5% in the month under review from 7.9% a year ago.

During the April-February period of the current fiscal, the six core industries registered a growth of 5.7%, compared to 5.4% expansion in the same period last year.

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