CBI charges Airtel, Vodafone, ex-telecom secy in 2002 case

Vodafone

THE CBI Friday filed a chargesheet against telecom firms Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Vodafone Mobile and former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh, accusing them of criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct in the allocation of additional spectrum in 2002 when the NDA was in power.

The chargesheet also alleges that then telecom minister, the late Pramod Mahajan, was part of the conspiracy but has not listed him as an accused. It says there can be no action against Mahajan since he is dead. The agency has charged all the accused under section 120-B of the IPC for criminal conspiracy and for crimes under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The chargesheet, filed in the court of Special CBI judge O P Saini, alleges that Ghosh, in criminal conspiracy with Mahajan and the accused companies, "abused his official position as a public servant and showed undue favour to the companies", causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the government exchequer and corresponding gain to the companies.

The loss calculated, the CBI said, includes the incidental gain to other telecom companies by the DoT charging an additional 1 per cent of the AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) as fee instead of charging additional spectrum fee of 2 per cent of AGR as recommended by the Telecom Commission for allotment of additional spectrum from 6.2 Mhz up to 10 Mhz.

The FIR in the case had pegged the loss caused due to the additional spectrum allotment at Rs 508.22 crore.

The agency has also alleged that "Shyamal Ghosh deliberately with malafide intention did not obtain the comments of the member-finance who was the representative of the minster-finance despite the matter having huge financial implications. The wireless adviser who was the custodian of entire spectrum was also intentionally bypassed on flimsy ground that he was retiring on the very day, that is 31 January 2002 (sic)".

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