Four leading telecom MNCs —AT&T, BT, MCI Worldcom and Equant — may face penal action in India for providing long distance services without having a licence that may have caused revenue loss to the government.
After completing the preliminary investigation on behalf of the department of telecommunications (DoT), the CBI is ready to file a case against these companies for a thorough probe into the financial loss.
It is alleged that these four companies caused a loss to the exchequer by depriving DoT of licence fee — a one-time entry fee of Rs 25 crore (prior to January 1, 2006) plus 15 per cent of average gross revenue (AGR). From January 2006, the one-time entry fee was lowered to Rs 2.5 crore and 6 per cent of AGR.
Asked whether DoT would formally seek a CBI probe, in which case the agency would file an FIR to take the case forward, sources declined to give a specific comment but said the issue is being examined.
The CBI inquiry also revealed that Indian companies Bharti Airtel, Tata Group company VSNL (Tata Communications) and Reliance Infocomm (now Rcom) had entered into an agreement with one or more MNC firms from time to time for providing connectivity to their customers in India.
While the inquiry was on against these companies too, all the four MNCs created their Indian subsidiaries and applied for NLD/ILD licences, which were issued but by inserting a special clause in view of alleged irregularities found in their parent companies.