|former telecom minister A Raja|
NEW DELHI. The CBI is believed to have gathered evidence of former telecom minister A Raja using his wife's bank accounts in Mauritius and Seychelles to deposit part of the Rs 3,000 crore bribe he allegedly took for favouring telecom companies with 2G spectrum.
CBI sources said that in response to letters rogatory (LRs), authorities in both the island countries have provided the agency with details which confirm a quid pro quo between Raja and the telcom companies that were helped by him to jump the queue for spectrum, in contravention of the first-come first-served policy.
The LRs were sent soon after the CBI lodged an FIR in October 2009 on the spectrum scan, and much before Supreme Court started probing its investigation into the alleged swindle.
TOI had reported on February 11 that the investigating agencies believe that Raja allegedly recieved almost Rs 3,000 crores in bribes, and that the entire 2G scam could have caused a loss of Rs 45,000-50,000 crores to the exchequer.
Enforcement Directorate, the other agency probing the spectrum scam, will soon send LRs to as many as 10 countries. The ED is investigating the flow of foreign funds in the telecom sector as well as whether money was sent abroad by suspects in the spectrum scam.
It has so far conducted source-based investigations (preliminary soundings) in Singapore, Mauritius, Cyprus, Dubai (UAE), Moscow ( Russia), Norway, Isle of Man, Jersy Island and British Virgin Island.
Sources in the ED, whose work has been appreciated by the SC, said that the scam money invested in little known companies in these countries has been routed back either as foreign direct investment (FDI) or as payoffs.
On Tuesday, a SC Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly expressed satisfaction with CBI's investigations, saying that they prima facie appeared to be going in the right direction. The Bench made the observation after senior advocate K K Venugopal submitted a fresh report detailing the status and progress of the probe.
Venugopal informed the court that the agency had questioned 63 persons including an MP, CEOs and promotors of 10 mobile service providers who got spectrum during Raja's tenure, and department of telecom (DoT) officials.
The Bench adjourned the hearing on a petition filed by an NGO, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), and asked both the CBI and ED to submit probe status reports by March 15.
While CBI is staring at the March 31 deadline for filing chargesheet against the accused persons, the ED had last month sought time till June to complete its probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).