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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Foreign funds traced in 2G scam, 31 firms under probe: ED&More

By Babu Ram-Thirty-one firms have come under the scrutiny of the Enforcement Directorate which told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that multi-crore foreign transactions relating to the 2G spectrum scam have been traced to at least 
six countries.

The agency placed its latest status report of its investigation in the scam in a sealed envelop before a bench comprising justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly in which it has mentioned that it is seeking the help of foreign authorities in tracking the source of money.

Senior Advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for ED, said that that Letters Rogatory have been sent to Singapore, Cyprus, Jersey and Virgin Islands in connection with the 2G spectrum scam. Similar communications were being sent to two more countries.

He said that 31 companies have so far been summoned and statements of 26 companies have been recorded.

He said that some hawala operators were also involved in the scam and their premises were raided and they were questioned by the ED.

Mr. Venugopal did not reveal the names of individuals and companies mentioned in the report.

He said day-to-day details of transactions in a bank account have been mentioned in the report as the account holder had failed to explain the source of Rs 2.5 crore lying with him. He has been asked to submit the documents.

The ED in its report also mentioned that after granting licence, a person sold his equity in the company and he made huge monetary gains which has traced to Mauritius. It said that a person has paid Rs 100 crore for liasioning.

The Court after going through the report said that prima facie there seems to be violation of law of the land.

“Networks are vast. Their connections are in many countries and prima facie there is a violation of law of land,” the court said.

It asked the ED about how many people are involved in investigating the scam.

The ED said that there are four teams which are involved in cracking the case.

During the hour-long proceeding, the agency also sought the court’s intervention to restrain the media from questioning its credentials in the case by making “baseless” allegations against it.

The agency referred to media reports in which it was said that its Chief A K Mathur was trying to scuttle the probe on the direction of the Finance Ministry.

Expressing satisfaction over the probe done by the ED, the bench said such reports “deserve to be ignored“.

“The matter is serious. Court would protect everyone.

It is not proper to indulge in character assasination,” the court said while adjourning the case for tomorrow for further arguments in the case.

The court was hearing a petition filed by an NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation on whose plea CBI probe was ordered by the apex court which is also monitoring the investigation in the 2G spectrum allocation scam which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to public exchequer.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, said that the CBI and the ED should also probe into quid pro quo arrangement between the DMK and Tatas as the land was alloted to the political party after the company got dual license during the tenure of A. Raja.

Mr. Venugopal, however, opposed the contentions of Mr. Bhushan and said that he should not make oral remarks and referred to the last hearing when he had spoken about alleged links of union minister Sharad Pawar with the 2G scam.

“All the media reported on what he(Bhushan) said but when he filed his affidavit he did not substantiate his allegation. This should be stopped,” he said.

In the last hearing on March 1, the CBI had in its report named the CEOs and promoters of 10 companies as among 63 persons who have come under the scanner for their alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

The court had expressed satisfaction about the progress in the probe into the case and asked the agency to file status report on March 15


Balwa to appear in court via videoconferencing

A Delhi court on Monday allowed Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, sent to the Tihar Jail for his alleged role in 2G spectrum allocation scam, to participate in its proceedings through videoconferencing.

The ex-Telecom Minister, A. Raja, was also granted a similar plea earlier. Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini allowed Mr. Balwa's plea to appear before the court through videoconferencing.

“The remand proceeding of accused Shahid Usman Balwa shall be conducted through the facility of videoconferencing on March 17 without him being physically brought to the court from Tihar Jail,” the court said.

Mr. Balwa and Mr. Raja will appear before the court on Thursday, while the former Telecom Secretary, Siddhartha Behura, and Mr. Raja's personal secretary R.K. Chandolia would be brought to the court after their judicial custody ends. Mr. Balwa's counsel Vijay Aggarwal submitted before the court that his client was suffering from severe backache and considering his medical condition he should be allowed to appear through videoconferencing. The CBI's prosecutor did not oppose the plea.





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