The CBI on Saturday put BSNL’s WiMAX technology franchise deal — struck during former telecom minister A Raja’s tenure in 2009 — with a private company, Starnet, under the scanner, alleging that the deal caused a loss of about Rs 535 crore to BSNL.
A source said a CBI FIR, filed on Saturday, alleged that BSNL officials awarded the franchise for high-speed Internet service technology to Starnet, withholding the sale of tender documents. The accused also diluted the eligibility terms, as Starnet did not have a Rs 100-crore annual turnover for two years.
According to CBI sources, at the time of bidding in June 2009, Starnet’s earlier avatar, Ampoules and Auto, was virtually nonfunctional. Its last tax return was filed in 2004, but in November 2009, the company suddenly filed returns for six years.
The source, however, said that in the FIR, Raja “has not been named as accused, but his role is being examined. His former aide RK Chandolia’s role is also being looked into”.
The FIR named four BSNL officers and two Starnet Communications directors, Rajesh Bhatt and S Manoharan. Besides, raids were conducted at nine premises of Starnet and Chennai-based Wellcom Communications in Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Chennai and Kolkata.
The CBI earlier searched Wellcom’s office during the probe into the 2G spectrum scam. Wellcom is a subsidiary of Wellcom, Malaysia.