The Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) probe into the 2G spectrum scam is looking at the links between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and at least four mobile service providers that were allotted 2G spectrum and licences by the telecom ministry under former minister A Raja.
Sources said the raid on Radia’s Delhi farmhouse last week provided the CBI with a host of incriminating material from her seized computers. Radia is emerging as a key player in the decision-making processes that led to the allocations in 2007-08.
Radia, said a CBI source, had told them she was instrumental in getting 2G spectrum and licences for “at least four companies” by using her “proximity to the former minister (Raja) during his stints as telecom minister”. Raja and Radia have already been grilled by the CBI about their alleged role in the allocation of spectrum and licences by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
The allocation violated several norms and was carried out in a manner intended to “favour a few select groups of applicants, including those on whose behalf Radia had been lobbying,” said the officer.
The CBI suspects Raja and Radia themselves hold benami stakes in one of the companies that got the license. Telephonic intercepts of conversations between Radia and her contacts and acquaintances in 2008-09 — some of which have appeared in the press — poin to this. Radia operated through four companies that specialised in handling corporate communications and business consultancy, including telecom.
The CBI is also verifying if those allotted spectrum and licences had allegedly influenced Raja’s decision to price the licences at rates prevalent in 2001, without revising them for 2008.
A member of the then telecom commission and the then telecom secretary had opposed the decision when it was taken. The CBI grilled Raja for his alleged role in the irregularities found in the allocation of the 2G spectrum and licences. He was also questioned on whether some of his relatives benefited from the transactions.
The CBI had registered a case on October 21, 2009 against unknown officials of the (DoT) and unknown private persons/companies and others in connection with the irregularities.