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CBI books top Reliance men

india Updated: Sep 11, 2006 05:12 IST
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The CBI has registered a case against four top officials of Reliance Infocomm -from the time the company was owned by Mukesh Ambani - for allegedly "masking" incoming international calls as local. The Bureau has also named some officials of the Bharatiya Sanchar Nigam Ltd for complicity.

The top officials named are Manoj Modi, the then director of Reliance Infocomm, Akhil Gupta, the then CEO, A Shankar, the then head of the company's corporate affairs, and Pankaj Panwar, the then head regulator of the company.

Reliance Infocomm is now run by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and all the four senior officials have left the company. Three of them are working for Mukesh Ambani.

During the year-long probe, the CBI was also to ascertain the ramifications of the auto-routing of international calls as a national security threat as pointed out by the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). The tribunal had slapped a penalty of Rs 150 crore on Reliance Infocomm for breaching the licence conditions.

This is how the scam worked according to the CBI. An international call coming through one of the three gateways-Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai-would be "masked" and put on the Public System Telephone Network as local. This was done, CBI sources said, with the help of specially designed software and accomplices in BSNL.

This was allegedly done to avoid paying Access Deficit Charges (ADC) to BSNL. Private telecom operators have to pay the state-owned telecom behemoth Rs 4 on every incoming international call as ADC.

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