2G scam: ED to attach Unitech, Swan properties
TNN | Apr 28, 2011, 12.33am IST
NEW DELHI: Soon after assuring the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it will attach properties of accused in the 2G spectrum scam to recover losses incurred by the exchequer, Enforcement Directorate (ED) has begun the proceedings, Unitech Wireless being the first to face action.
ED sources said properties worth Rs 2,340 crore belonging to Unitech Wireless (Uninor brand) will be attached under the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to recover losses due to cheap allocation of licences on the basis of the first-come, first-served basis.
Promoters of Unitech Wireless had invested Rs 138 crore in the firm and it was valued at Rs 2,480 crore when it was valued in preparation for the Telenor investment. The government now wants to recover this gain, estimated at Rs 2,342 crore, from the realty-to-telecom giant.
Swan Telecom will be the next telecom company to face such action. Sources said its properties worth Rs 2,800 crore will be attached. Notices for attachment will be issued to Swan soon after proceedings against Unitech Wireless are complete, sources said.
Gains from cheap 2G licences to Swan promoters Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka has been estimated to be around Rs 2,818 crore.
ED also told the Supreme Court that it was investigating five companies floated by corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s sister in British Virgin Islandsunder the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for possible quid pro quo in the 2G spectrum scam.
The CBI too presented its status report to a bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly and detailed a whole range of new facts unearthed during the probe between March 29 and April 25.
Given the spread of the probe and continuing flow of new information which needed verification, the bench said it would look into the next status report from CBI and Enforcement Directorate in mid-July, thus indicating that the May 31 deadline for completing the probe has got a liberal extension.
Appearing for CBI and ED senior advocate K K Venugopal read out the status reports, leaving out the names, and pegged the total bribe amount at Rs 3,000 crore. “We are not used to such huge figures,” the bench exclaimed. Venugopal said, “If the bribe money was Rs 3,000 crore, then the FEMA violations are suspected to be Rs 4,000 crore.”
“The figures are getting multiplied by the day,” the bench said while inquiring from Venugopal whether the apex court should restrain all judicial forums from entertaining any application by the two companies (Unitech Wireless and Swan) against the adjudication process till its completion.
Venugopal said there was need for passing such an order as the companies were likely to rake up irrelevant issues periodically before courts to challenge every stage of the adjudication process with an intention to stall or delay it.
Recovery action will be initiated against not only telecom companies but also against all those who directly or indirectly benefitted from the proceeds of the 2G scam. All those who allegedly collaborated and conspired in the case such as former telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and former bureaucrats are likely to face both prison term and penalty under PMLA, sources said.
“Whosoever directly or indirectly attempted to indulge or knowingly assisted in any activity connected with 2G scam proceeds and tried to project it as untainted property shall be guilty of money laundering and properties of an equivalent amount will be attached,” a senior Enforcement Directorate official said. Besides Unitech Wireless and Swan, other telecom companies facing ED action include Loop Telecom, Loop Mobile and S-Tel.
CBI also detailed before the apex court its probe against Videocon group and said Indian Legal Services officer Santokh Singh, who was on deputation to the department of telecom before being suspended in November last year, could face charges given the evidence emerging about his involvement in the 2G scam.
Radia tapes are in great demand: SC
NEW DELHI: The CBI and Enforcement Directorate complained on Tuesday to the Supreme Court that the Income Tax department was yet to hand over the entire transcript of telephone intercepts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia even at this advanced stage of probe into the 2G spectrum scam.
Appearing for CBI, senior advocate K K Venugopal said the agency has till date received only a part of the transcripts pertaining to over 5,000 intercepts of telephone conversations of Radia with others and requested the court to direct the I-T department to hand them over as soon as possible.
A Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said it would hear the I-T department on this issue on May 3 but Venugopal immediately added ED’s request for transcripts of the Radia tapes.
The leaked Radia tapes had created a controversy about DMK leader A Raja’s inclusion in the Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet as telecom minister and also had forced Tata group chairperson Ratan Tata to move the court seeking to keep the transcripts under wraps as it violated his right to privacy.
“The transcripts are in great demand,” the Bench said and asked Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy whether he had anything to tell the court.
Swamy informed the court that the whistle blower telecom official, who was key to CBI unearthing the scam, had been provided security by the government on its own.
However, he requested the court to order the government to keep the security intact when he visited Tamil Nadu, at least as long as the present dispensation was in power. The Bench refused to comment on this.