Some top officials of Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai are under CBI’s scanner for facilitating a “cakewalk” for telecom companies in obtaining Unified Access Services (UAS) licenses for 2G spectrum at throw-away prices without competitive bidding.
The CBI in its preliminary investigation told the court, “why Trai and DoT officials did not take action against those licencees who sold their stakes/ equities for many thousand crore without fulfilling their roll-out obligations and comply with other conditions of licence, is also being investigated.”
The CBI said DoT officials allegedly colluded with Swan Telecom when it got UAS licences for 13 circles at dirt cheap price of Rs1,537 crore, and offloaded its 45% equity to Etisalat of UAE for Rs4,200 crore.
Similarly, the probe agency suspects that DoT officials were hand-in-glove with Unitech Wireless (8 group companies), which paid Rs1,658 crore for UAS of all 22 circles, offloaded its 60% equity to Telenor of Norway for Rs6,100 crore.
“These stakes were sold by the said companies even before the roll-out of services by them. The estimated loss to government by grant of licences to these companies alone comes to Rs7,105 crore,” the CBI said.
Elaborating the corruption at the selling of licences, the agency in its report said “The entry fee for the new pan India UAS licenses in the year 2008 was kept by DoT as Rs1,658 crore, at which Cellular Mobile Telephone Service licenses were awarded by DoT after auction in the year 2001. These UAS licences, issued in 2008, were issued on first-come-first-served basis....”
Apart from former telecom minister A Raja, his private secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura have been arrested while the CBI has questioned former Trai chief Pradip Baijal. Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa is the fourth man arrested in the case. Further arrests have not been ruled out, the source said.
The CBI in its preliminary probe has questioned why TRAI and DoT officials did not take action against licencees, who sold their stakes without fulfilling their roll-out obligations
The CBI in the report said that DoT officials allegedly colluded with Swan Telecom when it got UAS licences for 13 circles at dirt cheap price of R1,537 crore
CBI suspects that DoT officials were hand-in-glove with Unitech Wireless, which paid R1,658 crore for all 22 circles.