Widening its probe into the 2G spectrum scam, the CBI on Tuesday questioned Vinod Goenka, partner of Shahid Balwa and the second promoter of Swan Telecom, now known as Etisalat DB.
Balwa is already in the custody of the CBI along with former telecom minister A Raja.
According to sources, Balwa and Goenka formed a 50:50 partnership to launch Dynamix Balwas (DB) Group a decade back. The group deals with real estate, hospitality and the telecom sector. Their company acquired Swan Telecom in 2007 in suspect circumstances. Investigators say Swan was one of the companies favoured by Raja. Swan formed a joint venture, Etisalat DB with UAE-based telecom giant Etisalat.
Sources close to the investigation have also revealed that Raja first met Balwa in the house of the daughter of a top Maratha politician. The daughter was also close to Raja’s patron politician in Delhi. Investigators suspect the Raja-Balwa friendship later on resulted in Swan being the favoured company of the former telecom minister.
Apart from Goenka, the CBI questioned Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, Loop Mobile CEO Sandeep Basu, S Tel’s chief financial officer Arun Mandhana, its chief regulatory officer Rupendra Kumar Sikka, Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (TRIL) CEO Sanjay Ubale and its CFO Kishore Saletore.
According to sources, it is not a mere coincidence that Chandra and the TRIL CEO and CFO were called for questioning on the same day.
Investigators want to know the exact date that TRIL is suspected to have provided around R1,500 crore to Unitech in the form of advance or commercial loan before it got unified access services (UAS) licences.
Investigators suspect the money provided by TRIL might have been used by Unitech and its seven subsidiary companies for acquiring the UAS licenses.
Unitech and its subsidiaries are also being probed for violating eligibility conditions for getting the licences — mainly that the eight subsidiaries didn’t have the required capital at the time of applying.
Six of these subsidiaries didn’t have telecom sector as their main object clause.
Chandra claimed in a statement that he was not the only telecom operator who was being questioned by the CBI in the matter. He also said that he was cooperating with investigators.