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2G scam case: Pressure on Anil Ambani, Ratan Tata off

Last updated on: November 23, 2011 14:55 IST

2G scam case: Pressure on Anil Ambani, Ratan Tata off

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi


Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, senior executives of the Reliance ADA Group who were granted bail on Wednesday by the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum scam case, will provide major relief to their high-profile boss Anil Ambani.

Also granted bail on Wednesday were Unitech's managing director Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom and D B Realty director Vinod Goenka.

The bail (on furnishing two sureties of Rs 5 lakh each) granted to the five executives will be a turning point in the on-going legal saga of the 2G scam, says a lawyer involved with the case.

A two-judge top court panel of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice H L Dattu granted the bail. It is important to note that Justice Singhvi is also hearing the 2G case and petition against billionaire businessman Anil Ambani filed by advocate and Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan.

Last week, a senior officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation, in an off-the-record conversation with rediff.com, said that none of the jailed executives of Reliance ADAG, during their investigation or during their court room appearances, had spoken anything that could help investigators implicate Anil Ambani in the case.

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Image: ADAG chairman Anil Ambani.
Photographs: Reuters
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2G scam case: Pressure on Anil Ambani, Ratan Tata off

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Their 'silence' is perceived by the CBI as being crucial to the case.

Last September, Bhushan had given in writing to the court, presided over by Justice Singhvi and Justice A K Ganguli, that the CBI is not charge-sheeting Anil Ambani. Bhushan had argued that Anil Ambani is the majority shareholder and chairman of Reliance Telecom and thus should be probed.

The CBI charge-sheet says that Swan was a company wholly owned by Reliance ADAG and set up by Reliance ADAG funds to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion). CBI also says that three employees of Reliance ADAG, who have been granted bail on Wednesday, created Swan and diverted Rs 1,000 crore of the company money.

CBI, therefore, has charge-sheeted Reliance ADAG managing director Gautam Doshi, Reliance Communications senior vice president Surendra Pipara and Reliance ADAG senior vice president Hari Nair, but it has not charge-sheeted Anil Ambani.

Bhushan argued in the court that ". . . it is inconceivable that three employees could have created a convoluted maze of companies to disguise Swan's real ownership and taken Rs 1,000 crore of company money without the approval of the chairman and the board."

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Photographs: Reuters
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The bank, used by the Reliance ADAG, has told CBI that any cheque of amounts exceeding Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) requires the approval of Anil Ambani or his wife Tina.

Reliance Telecom and Anil Ambani would have been the real beneficiaries by gaining access to GSM spectrum (which till October 18, 2007 they did not have) at 2001 prices, argued Bhushan.

The petitioner, Bhushan, alleged that soon after Reliance ADAG got GSM spectrum (in addition to its CDMA spectrum) in 20 circles on October 18, 2007, it sold off its officially shown 9.9 per cent stake to M/s Delphi, a Mauritius-based fully owned subsidiary of Mavi Investment Fund.

Reliance ADAG also made a donation to an NGO, which claims to promote Tamil culture, of which another 2G scam accused, Kanimozhi, is a director.

Bhushan also pointed out that Anil Ambani, rather than expelling the three employees (because of whom his company has been charge-sheeted, its reputation has been tarnished and its stock price has dropped) actually visits them in jail and assures them of all legal help.

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Photographs: Reuters
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2G scam case: Pressure on Anil Ambani, Ratan Tata off

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While talking about these serious charges, a senior CBI officer dealing with the case told rediff.com, "At no point in time during our investigation did these executives name Anil Ambani. If they would have, then there was no way we would have left him untouched."

The officer also said that the investigators interrogated Anil Ambani at length and carefully examined the case against him.

In other words, this means that the pressure on Anil Ambani is off.

The CBI, in an off-the-record conversation, also said that the case against Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata too has been totally ruled out. The CBI also claimed that the allegations that the Tatas gifted their Voltas land in Chennai, worth about Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) to the family of DMK president M Karunanidhi, have been investigated by them.

But 'that deal has not come through', said the CBI officer. He said that under legal provisions no case can be made out against Ratan Tata.

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Image: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters
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The Voltas land deal was discussed between Niira Radia (PR professional Tata's lobbyist) and Rajathi Ammal (Karunanidhi's wife and Kanimozhi's mother) in the infamous Radia tapes. Ratan Tata had written a letter to Karunanidhi praising accused and former telecom minister A Raja's telecom and spectrum allocation policies. The letter was hand-delivered through Niira Radia.

The five executives' bail plea was accepted on Wednesday as bail is the norm in such cases. While giving bail, the Supreme Court said that these five accused are unlikely to tamper with any evidence.

Vinod Goenka of D B realty and Unitech's Sanjay Chandra are also out on bail now. But, according to information available with rediff.com, the Enforcement Directorate is pursuing the case against Chandra with new leads and renewed vigour.

Also, the bail given to them does neither change their status in the eye of law nor the seriousness of the charges levelled against them by the CBI in the 2G scam case.

The case is being heard in the special CBI court presided over by Judge O P Saini.


Image: M Karunanidhi's daughter and DMK leader Kanimozhi.
Photographs: Reuters
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