ED grills Raja on licences, beneficiaries

FP
Former telecom minister A Raja appeared before the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday, the first time that the agency questioned the prime accused in the 2G spectrum scam.

The joint parliamentary committee had criticised the ED for the slow pace of investigation when the agency made a presentation last week.

Raja, who got bail in May after spending 15 months in Tihar jail, was issued summons to appear with details of his and his family members' assets, investments, income-tax returns and bank accounts. During the questioning that lasted nearly four hours, investigators asked him to describe his role in the allotment of 2G licences, especially to Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom.

"This was the first time that he was examined. We have asked him for more documents related to the decisions taken by him in allocating spectrum. He may again be called for questioning," a top ED official said.

Sources said Raja was also questioned on his association with A M Sadhick Batcha, a former aide who allegedly committed suicide in May 2011, and on his role in Batcha's company Green House Promoters, which had several of the former minister's relatives, including his wife and elder brother, on its board.

Raja is also understood to have been asked about his rapid rise in the DMK, leading to his being preferred over others for a central ministership. He is learnt to have answered questions about his time as environment minister (2004-07), during which he came to know Swan's promoter Shahid Usman Balwa.

The ED, which is probing alleged money-laundering by Raja, has accused him of receiving kickbacks and parking the money in foreign bank accounts.

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