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BW Businessworld

Anil Under Scrutiny; Clean Chit For Tata, Videocon

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The CBI on Thursday virtually gave a clean chit to Tata and Videocon groups in the 2G spectrum scam but said the role of Anil Ambani was being probed as three jailed corporate honchos of his company RADAG have distanced themselves from any wrongdoing.

Anil Ambani, the 52-year-old billionaire, is the highest-profile company executive to be drawn into the investigation of whether lucrative radio spectrum and mobile phone licences were sold at below-market prices in return for kickbacks.

The agency said it was conducting further investigation to find out the real beneficiaries as the arrested executives of the RADAG group have "resiled" from the statements given by them during the probe of the scam.

CBI, which refuted the allegation of not probing the role of corporate czars, said the three RADAG executives--Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair--in their statements under section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure had taken entire responsibility for the decision but in the Delhi High Court they retracted.

"They took responsibility in entirety for the decision but in the High Court (during bail plea) they said they were merely employees and did not receive any benefit," senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, submitted before a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly.

Giving detailed account of its probe into various allegations against Ambani, Tata Group, Videocon owned Datum and Attorney General G E Vahanvati in the 2G scam, the agency said that investigation was still on against Anil Ambani but it has not found evidence regarding the culpability of others in the scam.

"The role of Ambani and other employees in relation to 9.9 per cent share in the Swan Telecom which was sold to Delphi is being probed," Venugopal said while giving details of the transaction that took place among Swan, Delphi and Etisalat DB.

"Reliance ADAG had 9.99 percent shares in Swan. Swan had sold its 107.90 lakh shares to Delphi at the rate of Rs 15 per share and Etisalat had bought the shares from Delphi at the rate of Rs 285 per share.

"Shares given to Delphi was grossly undervalued and Reliance had received USD four million," he said while reading out reports received from Mauritius.

"The three employees of the RADAG have gone back on their earlier statements and have said in the Delhi High Court that they were just employees of the company.

"We are going to take our probe further to find out who are the real beneficiaries of the transaction," he said.

The senior advocate said though the CBI stand was that the three employees were the real beneficiaries but after they retracted from their statements now it has to be found how the share transaction was linked to Delphi Investment Ltd and in such a circumstance there was likelihood of making the trio "approvers" in the case.

"They may turn approver in which event we will get the whole impression about Delphi and transactions (from Swan to Delphi," he said.

Venugopal then read out the report on the Datacom and said that probe has revealed that no advantage was given to the company in the spectrum allocation during the tenure of A Raja.

"Unlike Swan and Unitec, Datacom was eligible to get licence. There is no evidence to show conspiracy on the part of public servants including Raja to (favour) Datacom," he said.

The agency also refuted the allegation that Videocon head Venugopal Dhoot's brother Raj Kumar Dhoot, who is a Rajya Sabha member, was present in Raja's office on the day of issuing of Letter of Intent to telecom companies.

The agency then read out the details of the probe against Tata group and said that instead of being beneficiary of the scam, they were losers because of the conspiracy on the part of Raja, which has been mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the CBI before the Special Judge.

"Tata Teleservices was put last in the list of companies (for allotment of spectrum in a circle) because of criminal conspiracy of the accused. It was a loser in it ans it has also been said by the TDSAT," Venugopal said.

He also said that the allegation that Tatas had gifted land to DMK family for getting undue favour from Raja was baseless.

"Tata did not gift land to DMK family. It was not even owned by the Voltas(Tata's company). The land was on lease and it is still on lease. There is no change in the possession of the land," he said.