Thursday, April 14, 2011

2G scam: Pawar may be controlling DB Realty, says Radia

NEW DELHI: Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia has told the CBI that Union agriculture ministerSharad Pawar may be controlling the controversialDB Realty and may have pursued the issue of spectrum and licence for Swan Telecom with former telecom minister A Raja. 

In a statement to CBI, which has been filed as part of the chargesheet in the 2G scam, Radia says on being asked by a journalist how she knew about Pawar lobbying with Raja to get approvals for Swan, "That as per the general perception inMumbai as well as outside DB Realties (sic) directly or indirectly (is) controlled by Sharad Pawar and his family members." 

Radia added that she had no "documentary proof or some other evidence" to back up her allegation. She, however, said Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka "are key persons in DB Realty", and "in that background, I had quoted the name of Sharad Pawar who might have pursued the matter with Raja, then telecom minister, for showing (favour) to Swan as well as to Anil Ambani Reliance Communications in issuing of UAS (unified access service) licence and dual technology". 

Pawar has in the past denied having anything to do with the DB Realty group although Goenka has said that he has family links with the Maratha leader. Goenka`s Dynamix group has a large presence in Baramati, Pawar`s constituency. 

Radia gave four separate statements to CBI, most of them dealing with the several phone conversations she had with various people including Ratan Tata, A Raja, Raja`s personal secretary R K Chandolia, several journalists and senior executives from various corporate houses. The conversations and her explanations before the investigation agency illustrates her proximity to Raja, Chandolia and many others. 

The lobbyist also told CBI that former IAS officers Pradeep Baijal and C M Vasudev were given "sweat equity" of 10% each in her consulting firm. Baijal was TRAI chairman until March 2006, while Vasudev held several crucial posts in the finance ministry. 

During her questioning, CBI confronted the lobbyist with phone conversations from her various numbers that were recorded by the Income Tax department. Radia responded to each of them and her statement was recorded under Section 161 of CrPC before the CBI. Unlike a statement recorded before a magistrate, statements recorded under Section 161 can be changed in court. 

The statements recorded by CBI additional SP Vivek Priyadarshi have Radia accusing Dayanidhi Maran, former telecom minister, of being against the Tata Group. "I would like to state thatDayanidhi Maran created a lot of problems for Tata group," Radia said, explaining the circumstances in which she was roped in by the Tata group for PR work. 

As opposed to Swan Telecom, which was "an applicant not even eligible for getting a UAS licence, in view of the cross holding clause", it was Tata Teleservices that "deserved the spectrum before any other company," her statement said. 

Appearing before Parliament`s Public Accounts Committee, Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata group, had also spoken of his group`s lack of chemistry with Maran who preceded Raja. 

Raja`s attempts to bring Kalaignar TV on the Tata Sky platform and their pending application withTata Communications in this regard also figures in Radia`s statement to CBI. Raja asked her to "put my efforts for getting the applications expedited with Tata Sky and Tata Communications". However, paucity of space ensured Kalaignar never made it to Tata Sky, she said. Raja`s additional PS A Achary, while deposing before a magistrate, corroborated this, saying that M Karunanidhi`s daughter Kanimozhi, the key mover behind the channel, was in regular touch with Raja to place Kalaignar TV on Tata Sky. 

Radia also revealed how she dealt with a recommendation by Chandolia to place two employees abroad. While one was working with TCS, Chandolia wanted the other to be taken into TCS and placed in the west. 

Radia told her investigators that she was a consultant to Unitech, besides working for Tatas. The payment of around Rs 1,700 crore from Tata Realty to Unitech was for a land deal in Gurgaon and not linked to telecom, she said.

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