Just ahead of crucial assembly elections in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a politically volatile charge sheet has been filed in the $39-billion 2G spectrum corruption scandal.
The scam is also being probed by two high-powered political bodies – the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and the Indian parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). However, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Indian equivalent of the FBI, has now filed a mammoth 80,000-page charge sheet in a New Delhi court.
The immediate implication of the charge sheet is that A. Raja, a key leader in the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the state, has been singled out. Raja, a former central minister who was just finishing up an initial 60-day stint in detention over the corruption claims, has been accused of a number of offences including criminal conspiracy and forgery. The basic charge is that Raja OK’d frequency and mobile network licenses to companies that weren’t eligible for them in return for massive kickbacks in return.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
The charge sheet, brought to the court in seven steel trunks, is the first in the 2G spectrum scam that has rocked the country. What should really worry the DMK, though, is that the CBI has promised to file supplementary charges naming more individuals and companies over the next couple of months. In addition, the CBI has reportedly said that a separate charge sheet on Kalaignar TV, owned by DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s family, will also be filed.
Nine individuals have been named in the charges, including two former top bureaucrats, Sidharth Behura and RK Chandolia, who were close to Raja. Three executives from Anil Ambani's ADAG group, including the group’s Managing Director Gautam Doshi, have reportedly been accused of assisting in cheating.
The three companies named in the charge sheet are Swan Telecom, Unitech Wireless and Anil Ambani's Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, a significant development considering that thus far the CBI had previously only fingered two companies — Swan and Unitech Wireless — as being the biggest beneficiaries of the 2G scam. Both these companies are essentially accused of dealing in real estate and creating new telecoms firms to acquire mobile network licenses.