UAE’s telecom giant Etisalat has said that its Indian affiliate Etisalat DB would contest charges filed against it by the authorities relating to the allocation of 2G licence in January 2008. "Etisalat would like to inform you that on October 22nd, 2011, charges were framed against Swan Telecom, in which Etisalat holds 44.7 per cent, and 16 other parties, by the Court of Special Judge (CBI) in relation to the allocation of 2G licences which transpired in January 2008," Etisalat’s acting group chief financial officer Oussama El Rifai, said in a statement to the Abu Dhabi bourse.
The company said that the charges relate to events that occurred at least one year prior to Etisalat’s investment in Swan (subsequently renamed EDB). It added that Etisalat had no knowledge of any wrongdoing in the licence application process for Swan and had no involvement in it.
It further said, the licence applications were entirely conducted by the promoters of Swan Telecom who subsequently marketed the Swan investment opportunity to Etisalat through a well-known international investment bank. The company also said it will continue to assist the Indian authorities in any way that it can.
"The due diligence that Etisalat and its advisers – including leading International and Indian accounting, tax and legal advisors – conducted did not reveal any wrong-doing or grounds for concern. "The customary representations and warranties were made by the vendors of Swan that the licenses were issued in accordance with the laws and regulations of India," it said. According to Etisalat, in so far as it has been able to investigate the position, it has not established any basis for the charges levied against EDB and it expects EDB to defend the charges resolutely.
"Etisalat will, of course, look to its remedies against third parties at the appropriate time in order to protect its investment and rights," it added. Way was paved on Saturday for the trial in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case with a special court framing charges against former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 15 others for offences including criminal breach of trust that entails a maximum punishment of life term. Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, corporate honchos -- Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group's MD Gautam Doshi, Group President Surendra Pipara and Senior Vice President Hari Nair; Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka -- are among the other high-profile accused who will face trial, commencing on November 11.