The probe into the 2G scam has almost reached the doorstep of former telecom minister A Raja. R K Chandolia, Raja’s close aide and private secretary at the time of allocation of spectrum, was grilled on Thursday by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials.
According to sources, Chandolia was a key link between some of Raja’s favoured companies and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.
Chandolia reached ED’s Delhi office at 10.30am and left at around 5.30pm. Sources said Chandolia will be called for questioning again as he has been asked to furnish details of his income tax returns, as well as some banking transactions and investments made in properties and bonds and the stock market in the last few years.
In the next round of questioning, Chandolia will reportedly be asked in more detail about the controversial circumstances leading up to the allocation of 2G spectrum on January 10, 2008. Chandolia had a ringside view of the happenings in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as PS to Raja.
Investigators intend to ask him who took the decision to advance the cut-off date from October 1, 2007 to September 25, 2007 for receiving applications for 2G spectrum.
Chandolia will also be asked to clarify about the charge that he personally received bank drafts of spectrum fee from at least two companies in his chamber. And most importantly, why he was in touch with Niira Radia so frequently.
The ED has already questioned a few of the telecom operators and Radia. Only after completing Chandolia’s questioning will the investigators take a call on the questioning of A Raja. They also intend to call Radia for questioning again.
Chandolia, an officer of Indian Economic Service (IES), was asked to write his own statement that was recorded under Section 50 of the prevention of money laundering act, which makes it evidence in a court of law. The questions Chandolia faced ranged from his family background to each of his postings.
Chandolia was initially private secretary to A Raja when the DMK leader was environment minister in UPA-I. After Dayanidhi Maran’s exit in 2007 from the telecom ministry, Raja took his place and Chandolia also came along with him.
After his promotion to the rank of joint secretary, Chandolia could not hold the post of PS to the minister. But Raja kept him in DoT as economic adviser.
According to sources, Chandolia wielded considerable clout during Raja’s time as telecom minister. After Raja’s resignation Chandolia was shifted out of DoT by the new minister, Kapil Sibal.
Chandolia told investigators he was now holding the post of economic adviser in the Tariff Commission, which comes under the ministry of commerce and industry.