CBI wants Anil Ambani, wife summoned in 2G case

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 Injecting a new element in the 2G spectrum allocation case trial, the CBI on Thursday asked a Delhi court to summon Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses to “arrive at the truth” and for a “just decision” in the case.

The CBI moved an application in the court saying Mr. Ambani, his wife and 15 others are required to be examined as witnesses in the case, as “some new facts,” including some bank documents pertaining to money transaction of Rs. 997 crore in October 2007 between the DB Group Company and Reliance ADA Group companies, have surfaced.

Reliance Telecom Ltd. (RTL) and Vinod Goenka, Managing Director of DB Realty Ltd., are accused in the case.

The CBI’s plea assumes importance as top Reliance executives Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair are facing trial in the case along with Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Mr. Goenka. The CBI had alleged that RTL used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get 2G licences and the costly radio waves.

Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit told the court that these witnesses were required to be summoned for recording of their statements to ascertain the truth.

After hearing Mr. Lalit’s arguments, Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini issued notices to all the 17 accused, including RTL, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd., seeking their responses on July 3 on the CBI’s plea.

“Issue notices to the accused for July 3,” the judge said adding he would decide on July 3 as to whether it would seek a reply from the accused on a separate CBI plea for recalling Department of Telecommunications (DoT) official Nitin Jain, who has been examined earlier, as a witness. Seeking to summon Mr. Ambani, the CBI said, “He being the head of Reliance ADA Group, his testimony is required to depose as to who was responsible for incorporation of shell companies, including Swan Telecom, Tiger Traders Pvt. Ltd., Zebra Consultants Pvt. Ltd. … their interlocking equity structures, corporate structuring of Swan Telecom, investments/divestments into/out of Swan Telecom by RTL, Reliance Communications Ltd, Vikata Engineering Services Pvt. Ltd. and other Reliance ADA Group companies…”

The CBI said Mr. Ambani’s testimony was required to know about “decision to apply for UAS licences on behalf of Swan Telecom, pursuing the process of applications with DoT, transfer of Swan Telecom to the DB Group in October 2007.”

The CBI plea comes days after the former corporate lobbyist, Niira Radia, supported its contention that Swan Telecom, which allegedly belonged to Reliance Communications, was “ineligible” for 2G spectrum.

Mr. Lalit told the court that the CBI had recorded Mr. Ambani’s statement under Section 161 of the Cr. PC during the probe in the case but it was not placed before the court earlier as the Reliance chairman was not arraigned as a prosecution witness in the case.

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