The CBI’s questioning of lobbyist Niira Radia and former telecom minister A Raja has strengthened its suspicion that they may have significantly benefited from a company with major interests in real estate and which won a telecom licence and 2G spectrum two years ago, sources have told HT. The company had no telecom business before it got 2G spectrum.
Not just that, the company pawned that licence to raise massive funds to start operations. It got its 2G telecom licence in 2008 as a real estate firm, but changed its name a few months after it got the licence.
The firm also managed to get the government to stand guarantee for loans ranging between Rs 2,000 crore and Rs 2,500 crore. The loans were secured through tripartite agreements between the company, a consortium of banks and the government.
A top telecom bureaucrat signed one of these agreements and has been questioned by the CBI, which is probing whether second-generation mobile telephony licences were arbitrarily given at throwaway prices.
The bureaucrat is a former official of the access services wing of the telecom department. “He signed one of the agreements, whereby the government stood guarantee for loans worth a few thousand crores raised by this licencee as late as May,” an official involved with the probe told HT.
The official signed the tripartite loan agreement on behalf of the government.
Supreme Court, which is hearing a case linked to the 2G scandal, has already asked the CBI to look into all bank loans given to telecom licencees.
Radia’s Vaishnavi Corporate Communications told HT it has serviced no client in telecom other than Tata Tele Services.
The CBI is learnt to have homed in on the company after gleaning key details from seized documents and also during its questioning of Radia, Raja and several bureaucrats.