M A I N   N E W S

Wrong to say no loss in 2G: CBI chief
l Contradicts Sibal’s claim before PAC l MM Joshi says panel could question Shourie if he approaches it
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, February 15
CBI Director AP Singh today contradicted Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on his claim that the 2G Spectrum allocation had caused “zero loss” to the national exchequer as he appeared before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Singh was quizzed by the members of the committee on various aspects of the Spectrum allocation which the CBI is investigating.

“As far as he (Singh) has seen the case, to say ‘zero loss’ is wrong,” PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi told a press conference after the meeting.

A member of the committee said the CBI chief was of the view that it would be “wrong to say that there was zero sum loss in allocation of 2G Spectrum on first-come-first-serve basis.” This assertion of the CBI chief contradicts Sibal who had claimed that the 2G Spectrum allocation had caused “zero loss” to the exchequer and rubbished as “utterly erroneous” the CAG's calculation that the presumptive loss was to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

The CBI, in its FIR in the 2G case, has said the losses could be to the tune of Rs 22,000 crore. The CBI Director was asked about the methodology used by the agency to calculate the losses caused by the alleged irregularities in the Spectrum allocations

He said he would be unable to accurately quantify the loss to the exchequer as his focus was on unravelling the criminal aspect of the alleged scam. He told the members that he would get back to the PAC on the matter.

To questions on whether former Telecom Minister Arun Shourie would be called by the PAC, Joshi pointed out that the CBI has already asked him to appear before it on February 21.

Meanwhile, the PAC chief hinted that the committee could examine former Communication Minister Arun Shourie if the latter offers himself for questioning.

“If Shourie makes an offer, the committee will consider it and decide. But let him first appear before the CBI and let us see what he tells them,” Joshi told reporters here. He added that Shourie can’t appear simultaneously before the two probe bodies — the PAC and the CBI.

Shourie, the former driver of the telecom policy during the NDA regime, has claimed that he has enough evidence to nail his successor, A Raja. He reportedly tried to approach the Prime Minister, leaders of his party Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and the CBI chief to tell the whole story. But none of them allegedly showed any interest in getting to the bottom of the truth.

Curiously, while Shourie offered to tell all to the Prime Minister and the CBI, he has not approached the PAC that is headed by Joshi, a senior leader of his (Shourie) party.

Shourie has also opposed the proposal to set up a JPC to look into the alleged scam, terming it as a “fruitless and wasteful exercise.” 

Top brass of telcos grilled

New Delhi, February 15
The CBI today questioned top officials of some telecom companies, including Managing Director of Unitech Sanjay Chandra, in connection with its probe into 2G scam.

The CBI headquarters here virtually turned into a corporate office with top brass of four companies — Loop, S-Tel, Tata Realty and Unitech — arriving for questioning by the agency.

The day began with the questioning of Chief Executive Officer of Loop Telecom Sandeep Basu who was asked questions about some documents seized by the CBI during searches. Loop had got licences for 21 circles when the Spectrum was issued during the first stint of Raja as Telecom Minister between September 2007 and January 2008.

This was followed by the questioning of Chief Financial Officer Arun Mandhana and Chief Regulatory officer Rajeev Sikka of S-Tel, a company which was issued licences in five circles during the same period. Tata Realty Managing Director Sanjay Ubale and Kishore Salatore were also quizzed by the CBI about the funding pattern in Tata Tele services. “Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited has not recieved any summons issued by CBI. They had sought some clarifications, which have been provided.” a Tata Realty spokesperson said.

The questioning of the Unitech Managing Director continued for several hours during which he was asked to explain about off-loading of shares, CBI sources said. Unitech is the only company after Swan Telecom which has been named by CBI in the FIR filed on October 21, 2009. Even as Chandra was being questioned, Unitech issued a statement that said: “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." — PTI





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