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Rs 2,00,000 cr lost! The BIGGEST scams of 2010

Last updated on: December 23, 2010 11:33 IST

Rs 2,00,000 cr lost! The BIGGEST scams of 2010

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Barun Jha in New Delhi
For scams, whose total size runs into 13-digit numbers, the names they are known by are short -- 2G, CWG and IPL.

Going by the estimated size of these scams, the total for the year 2010 could be well beyond Rs 2,00,000 crore -- a 13-digit figure -- although much of the loss is presumptive in nature.

The scam with the shortest name -- 2G -- alone, according to various accounts, deprived the government coffers of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in potential revenue.

2G is the acronym for second generation mobile telephony and it ran into a scam cloud over allocation of spectrum, or radio waves, at prices that were not market-determined.

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Image: Images used only for representational purposes

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Acronyms were hot favourites for not just scams, but also for the likes of whistleblower website Wikileaks, with Wiki standing for 'What I Know Is'.

Wiki is used as prefix by websites where netizens can read and also create content.

Such websites are made on a computer language called WYSIWYG, which stands for 'What You See Is What You Get'.

Back home, the names of various scams mostly read like those taken out from primary school alphabet colouring books, often limited to two or three letters, with a few numerals thrown in-between in some cases.

And while the small names were certainly not beautiful for those at the receiving end of these scams, the large size of these would have definitely helped the perpetrators make a bounty.

Adding to the acronym frenzy, the government wants a probe into the 2G scam by a PAC (the acronym for Public Accounts Committee), but the Opposition wants the investigation by a JPC, again an acronym for a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

And for the record, the CBI is probing the scam under the supervision of the SC (Supreme Court).



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Other major scams during the year were that of the IPL and CWG.

These were related to the Indian Premier League, an annual short-format cricket tournament, and the Commonwealth Games, which the country hosted this year.

The reports suggest that CWG involved irregularities worth Rs 8,000 crore, while those in the IPL were to the tune of Rs 1,200-1,500 crore, although there are no official figures for either.

Toward the end of the year, there was also a LICHF scam, which involved some top officials of LIC Housing Finance and a few other private and public sector financial sector firms and reportedly involved irregularities to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore.





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On the global front, whistle-blower website Wikileaks has been releasing classified messages sent out by American diplomats from across the world to the US administration for about a month now and many of these leaks have caused a furore in many countries, including India.

Back home, too, it is mostly acronym-named entities that have been either blowing the lid off or investigating various scams.

To name a few, capital market regulator Sebi continued to crack down on various scams related to the stock market, although it could not make much headway into its probe into the largest in the previous year, the estimated Rs 14,000 crore Satyam scam.

For the record, the Satyam fraud was the biggest in many years for India when it comes to the list of the largest scams. Also, it was the Satyam fraud that put an end to the trend of big scams being called by proper names and not abbreviated ones, such as those that surfaced during 2010.





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Globally, as well as locally, big scams have mostly derived their names from the names of the people or entities involved and rarely have any of those been acronyms.

Till last year, the big league of scams in India included Satyam, Bofors, Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh, Home Trade, Telgi (fake stamp) and the UTI scam, the last being a rare exception.

Globally also, there has been a similar trend where proper names have been there in the names of scams in the past, as has been the case in Ponzi scams (named after Charles Ponzi, the pioneer of such scams), the Maddoff scam (a Ponzi scam named after the perpetrator) and Enron and WorldComm scams (both of which were named after the companies where the scams took place).

Going by the trend, it would not come as a surprise if the names of the scams fall into single characters, either alphabets or numerics, in the New Year, even as their size keeps on growing, and there would be names like '1' scam, '2' scam or 'A' fraud and 'B' fraud.



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