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'Anil Ambani left CBI headquarters in a huff'

February 18, 2011 22:13 IST
Sheela Bhatt reveals what transpired during Anil Ambani's appearance at the CBI headquarters on Wednesday, February 16.

"Anil Ambani was fuming after the questioning. He left the CBI headquarters in a huff," a source at the Central Bureau of Investigation told Rediff.com

Ambani, chairman, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, spent two hours at the CBI headquarters on Wednesday, February 16. The CBI is investigating the 2G spectrum scam.

According to this CBI source, "You should give the CBI credit for doing its job. We are not solely depending on the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report. We are doing our own investigation in investigating the 2G spectrum case."

CBI officers asked Ambani about the nature of the investment of his companies during and after it received the licence for dual mobile telephony.

The CBI believes that after getting the dual telephony licence, Ambani's company, under the rules, became ineligible for a 2G spectrum licence (unless it fulfilled subscribers-linked criteria).

The agency is investigating if then telecom minister Andimuthu Raja asked Ambani to bring in Shahid Balwa of DB Reality in the game of cornering spectrum allotment.

Balwa was a real estate developer. He had no expertise in the telecom industry. The sequence of events before the allotment of 2G spectrum is under intense CBI investigation.

The CBI claims Swan Telecom, Balwa's company, launched for the purpose of getting 2G spectrum, had Tiger Traders Private Limited with a 90.13% share as the major investor.

Ambani's company had a 9.87% equity share, the CBI claims.

Ambani furiously argued about the nature of share capital and the differences in rights for equity and preferential shares. He explained many issues including the rule that in preferential shares there were no voting rights.

The CBI source explained that there are two major issues in Raja's case. The agency has filed corruption cases under Section 13-1-D of the Prevention of Corruption Act under which any public servant can be prosecuted if 'by corrupt or illegal means, obtains for himself or for any other person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage.'

The CBI source added that "for us it's not necessary to comment on A Raja's policy decisions, selecting the option of first come-first-serve basis against the route of holding an auction. We are trying to focus on if the decision benefited any other person and if Raja had any pecuniary advantage. We are looking into if Raja abused his position or if he obtained for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest."

Speaking to Rediff.com, in an off the record conversation, a source said, "The link explained by the CAG between Swan Telecom and the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam)-owned television channel, Kalaignar TV, is almost established. Balwa is saying that he invested in the company in Chennai to diversify and it was a business decision."

The CBI, interestingly, says it is not looking at the broader telecom policy or the valuation of licences, which is again a matter of government policy, but it is investigating whether the policy was wrongly followed and if it benefited select individuals.

Current Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has said the government's telecom policy was not incorrect given the circumstances of 2005 onwards. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also supported the policy of 2G spectrum allotment at his February 16 interaction with the editors of television channels.

The CBI is broadly investigating how Raja decided who should get licences and spectrum, if and how vested interests influenced him, when and at what stage.

Importantly, it is checking if any conspiracy existed between Raja and people who obtained favours from him. "We have the records of the ministry and we will be able to prove the case," says a CBI source.

"We are checking if in the name of protecting existing bigger players, if Raja was helping the new companies," adds the source.

The CBI source claims "we are going into the details of Balwa's many companies and studying the investment patterns. We are also checking the flow of money from abroad into Balwa's companies. Also, we have noticed that big money has gone from each of Balwa's companies to other companies who may have a connection with Raja."

In short, the entire CBI investigation is veering around how, when, why and under which terms and conditions Shahid Balwa became a frontman for A Raja!

Earlier: What Anil Ambani's appearance at the CBI HQ really means

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi