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Up next: company law probe on 2G

business Updated: Nov 22, 2010 02:07 IST
Mahua Venkatesh

While much of the focus in the 2G telephony scandal has been on spectrum pricing and alleged corruption, there is also an investor trail involving firms in the middle of the muddle. The government may dig into the account books and ownership details of these firms following indications that they may have broken company law regulations.

The Registrar of Companies (RoC) under the corporate affairs ministry, which is a repository of corporate ownership records in the country, may seek answer questions such as: Who are the real investors behind some of the companies that were awarded licences and spectrum? Which of these companies had changed their shareholding structure many times in the last two years?

"We would not play a role immediately. But if we get any direction from any of the enforcement agencies that have plunged into action, we would take it up appropriately," corporate affairs minister Salman Khurshid told Hindustan Times.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) probing the scandal related to underpricing of 2G spectrum had raised questions on the eligibility criteria of many firms, some of which involved share sales that have raised eyebrows.

Government sources, who did not wish to be identified, said the RoC would examine the "articles of association" of each of the new licencee firm to find out whether these firms had submitted incorrect information on paid-up capital, revenue and profit figures when they applied for licences.

"It has been observed that some at least 12 entities, which had applied for licences, neither had the sufficient paid-up capital nor did they incorporate telecom related business in their memorandums of association," said one official, requesting anonymity.

Documents appended by these companies with their applications also suggest that they had not complied with the conditions of the Companies Act 1956, the source said.

A scrutiny of the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association of some of the companies suggested they had not complied with conditions under the Companies Act 1956, when they made alterations.

"Some companies had suppressed facts or gave misleading information along with their applications," the source said

The RoC would also scrutinise details of investments in telecom firms that attracted significant foreign capital after they received the licences and 2G spectrum, the source said.