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CBI quizzes Tata Realty chairman, six others

BS Reporter / New Delhi 25 Feb 11 | 12:28 AM

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday widened its probe into the 2G spectrum scam, calling in the top officials of several companies, including R Krishna Kumar, chairman of Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd, along with CEO Sanjay Ubale, for questioning which started at 10.30 am and lasted for five hours.

CBI also summoned Spice Mobility MD Dilip Modi, STel Director Shankaran, and CEO Shamik Das, Siva Group CEO V Srinivasan and Loop Telecom CEO Sandeep Basu.

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Tata Realty officials were quizzed on their linkages with Unitech in the light of the Rs 1,600-crore loan that was extended to Unitech for getting the 2G licence. CBI had earlier questioned Unitech's Chairman, Sanjay Chandra, regarding the same matter.

Kumar, for whom it was the first visit to CBI in connection with the 2G spectrum case, managed to escape media attention at the agency headquarters.

STel officials are being questioned over alleged transfer of Rs 100 crore to Kalaignar TV, whose owners are said to have links with the DMK leadership. STel, which had got 2G licence and spectrum during 2007-08 under the regime of former communications minister A Raja, is alleged to have transferred the money indirectly to Kalaignar. Also, links between Kalaignar TV and Swan Telecom, another player to have got 2G licence and spectrum at that time, are beign investigated. STel had subsequently denied any links with Kalaignar TV.

As for Loop Telecom, Essar's role in the company is being questioned. Essar group's involvement in the running of Loop Telecom had earlier been questioned by the corporate affairs ministry. Since Essar already holds 33 per cent in Vodafone- Essar, a pan-India telecom company, it cannot run another telco. According to the unified service access licence (UASL) guidelines, issued by the DoT, a company would not be permitted to hold over 10 per cent in more than one telecom entity in the same circle or service area.

On the issue of Spice, Idea's deal to buy stake in Spice Communications was under scrutiny. The Idea-Spice deal is being investigated over alleged violation of the government's merger guidelines.According to the government's guidelines on merger of telecom licences, any permission for merger shall be accorded only after completion of three years from the effective date of the licences. Also, no operator is allowed to hold dual licences in any telecom circle.

Before March 1, CBI is going to question all nine companies that got 2G licences in 2007-08. Among the top brass of companies who have been already interrogated by the CBI include Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, Essar CEO Prashant Ruia, Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot, and Rajiv Mehrotra, Chairman Shyam Group. Shahid Balwa, managing director of DB Realty, which is in a joint venture with UAE-based Etisalat group, was arrested earlier this month.

Former telecom minister, Arun Shourie is likely to come to CBI headquarter tomorrow morning. The CBI had approached Shourie, a senior BJP leader, early this month asking him to appear before it in connection with the Preliminary Enquiry registered by the agency following a direction from the Supreme Court.

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