A new warfront is all set to open up on 2G. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday handed over a 2G file, running into 500 pages, on the correspondence between the home ministry and the telecom ministry related to lock-in period on sale of equity, to Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy. The Janata Party leader, who had sought transcript of conversation between home minister and former finance minister P Chidambaram and jailed DMK member and former telecom minister A Raja, told reporters he was happy with what he had got. The file was given to Swamy in response to his application in the special CBI court recently.
According to CBI, the file contains correspondence between the two ministries — finance and telecom — and not the two ministers. “The material in the file is not relevant to the 2G scam investigation and therefore not relied upon by the CBI for prosecution,” a senior CBI official said.
Swamy has alleged complicity between Chidambaram and Raja on the 2G spectrum allocation issue, with respect to the equity sale policy. CBI had seized the documents related to this policy and correspondence between Raja and Chidambaram on the matter on October 22, 2009, during its probe.
These documents mainly talk about whether Swan and Unitech Wireless, two companies accused in the 2G scam, should be allowed to induct partners soon after the grant of licence. The allegation against the beneficiaries in the scam is that companies were given pan-India 2G telecom licence at a throwaway price (set way back in 2001) of Rs 1,650 crore in 2007-08, and then they made windfall profit by inducting foreign partners into their respective ventures. The companies however claimed that there was no divestment of promoters' equity, and that induction of partners involved dilution of stake by bringing in additional equity. The government did not raise any objection on the matter.
"I was looking for correspondence between Raja and Chidambaram on the sale of equity by Swan, Unitech. I'm satisfied with what I've got. There are file notings too,” Swamy told reporters after his meeting with the CBI officials on Thursday. Swamy looked happy and confident as he stepped out of CBI headquarters . He said, “I am convinced I have a strong case when I go to the trial court.”
He also said, “The fact that the two companies were allowed to sell their stake at several times the price they paid for the licences, at the cost of the exchequer and the stake was sold to companies that posed a security threat, constitutes an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
While Norway's Telenor partnered Unitech for the Unitech Wireless JV, UAE-based Etisalat tied up with Swan. Etisalat had to face security hurdles before entering India.
"It is a DoT file dealing with the reintroduction of lock-in period for the equity held by promoters in Telecom licencee companies. This condition was not there at the time of introduction of UAS License regime in November 2003,” the CBI official said. While CBI says that there was no lock in period at the time, Swamy claims that the lock-in period was done away with by Chidambaram.
A Raja, the main 2G spectrum scam accused and former telecom minister has said in his defence on several occasions that Chidambaram had given him the go-ahead ahead to allow the two companies to induct partners.