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Unitech MD among 6 questioned by CBI

February 16, 2011 09:59 IST
UnitechA week after the arrest of DB Realty managing director Shahid Balwa, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday questioned Unitech Group managing director Sanjay Chandra.

Telecom firms floated by DB Realty and Unitech have been identified by the CBI's prosecutor as having been given preferential treatment in the award of licences by former communications minister A Raja.

Although Unitech had earlier denied receiving a summons from the CBI, a company statement quoted Chandra as saying, "In continuation of the ongoing investigations, I am here on Tuesday to personally clarify certain issues raised by the CBI."

Others who were summoned by the CBI on Tuesday in connection with the 2G scam were Loop Telecom CEO Sandip Basu, as well as S-Tel CFO Arun Mandhana and Chief Regulatory Officer R Sikka.

Both Loop and S-Tel are among the firms that received telecom licences under a controversial process in 2007-08 under Raja.

Tata Realty & Infrastructure managing director Sanjay Ubale and CFO Kishore Saletore were also questioned by the CBI about the company's loans to a telecom firm. "We have not received any summons issued by CBI.

(The agency) had sought some clarifications, which have been provided," said a statement by Tata Realty.

Ubale is a former IAS officer, who held various positions with the state government of Maharashtra and also served as its principal secretary.

While Ubale and Salatore could not be reached for comment, the former's name came up in widely publicised
taped conversations between Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata and lobbyist Niira Radia.

In a statement issued to the press on Chandra's behalf, Unitech on Tuesday said that officials from all nine new telecom licensees were being questioned by the investigative agency and that none had been specifically singled out.

"Our officers have provided all records for examination and clarified all issues raised by them from time to time. Going forward, we will continue to assist in the same spirit," the statement said.

Amid rumours that he too would be questioned by the CBI on Tuesday, DB Realty Chairman Vinod Goenka issued a denial. "I went to the CBI office to meet Shahid and had lunch there. I was not summoned by CBI," he clarified.

The comptroller & auditor general of India has pegged the notional loss to the exchequer at Rs 1.76 lakh crore (Rs 1.76 trillion) as a result of Raja's first-come-first-served 2G licensing policy, which furnished bundled spectrum at a price discovered in 2001.

Raja was forced to resign from the ministry and was subsequently arrested for alleged irregularities in the allocation process.

Unitech offloaded 60 per cent of its telecom venture to Norway's Telenor and DB Realty's Swan Telecom sold 45 per cent stake to UAE-based Etisalat.

The CBI has estimated the notional loss to the government as a result of these stake sales at Rs 7,105 crore (Rs 71.05 billion).

BS Reporters in New Delhi/Mumbai