Injecting a new element in the 2G spectrum allocation case trial, CBI Thursday asked a Delhi court to “summon” Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses to “arrive at the truth” and for a “just decision” in the case.
CBI moved an application in the court saying Anil Ambani, his wife Tina and 15 other persons 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 DB Group Company and Reliance ADA Group companies, have surfaced.
RADAG’s Group company Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) and Vinod Goenka, Managing Director of the DB Realty Ltd, are accused in the case.
CBI’s plea to call Anil Ambani as a witness assumes importance as three top Reliance ADAG executives– Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair– are facing trial in the case along with Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.
The agency had alleged that RTL used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get 2G licenses and the costly radio waves.
Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit told the court that these witnesses are required to be summoned for recording of their statements to ascertain the truth.
After hearing Lalit’s arguments, Special CBI Judge O P Saini issued notices to all the 17 accused, including three firms RTL, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd, seeking their responses on July 3 on the agency’s plea.
“Issue notices to the accused persons 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’s plea for recalling Department of Telecommunications (DoT) official Nitin Jain, who has been examined earlier, as a witness.
Seeking to summon Anil Ambani, the agency said that “being the head of Reliance ADA Group”, his testimony is necessary to the effect that who was responsible for incorporation of shell companies including Swan Telecom, facing trial in the case.
“He (Anil Ambani), 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 Pvt Ltd, Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, Zebra Consultants Pvt Ltd…. their inter-locking equity structures, corporate structuring of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, investments/divestments into/out of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd By Reliance Telecom Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd, Vikata Engineering Services Pvt Ltd and other Reliance ADA Group companies….,” the agency said.
CBI, in its plea, said Anil Ambani’s testimony is required to know about “decision to apply for UAS licences on behalf of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, pursuing the process of applications with DoT, transfer of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd to the DB Group in October 2007.”
CBI’s plea to make Anil Ambani its witness came days after former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia supported the contention of the agency that Swan Telecom, which allegedly belonged to ADAG’s Reliance Communications, was “ineligible” for 2G spectrum.
Lalit told the court that CBI had recorded Anil Ambani’s statement under section 161 of the CrPC during the probe in the case but it was not placed before the court earlier as the Reliance ADAG Chairman was not arraigned as a prosecution witness in the case.
He sought the court’s permission to place Ambani’s statement before it today itself but the judge said he will deal with the issue after going through the reply filed by the accused.
Regarding Tina Ambani, CBI said that she was occupying an “important position” in the Reliance ADA Group and was “authorised to transact on behalf of Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd without any limit on value.”
It said Tina Ambani was a “director and chairman of multiple board meetings of ADAE Ventures Pvt Ltd and AAA Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd, companies which have had multiple transactions with Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd.”
According to the CBI charge sheet, Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, Zebra Consultants Pvt Ltd, ADAE Ventures Pvt Ltd and AAA Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd were associate companies of Reliance ADA Group.
Besides Anil and Tina Ambani, CBI has sought the court’s permission to summon Raj Pal, then advisor to TRAI, some bank officials and CFSL experts. Apart from them, CBI also named some persons, including the Company Secretary of Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt Ltd, officials of Reliance Energy Ltd.
The agency, in its application, said some documents, which were summoned from various entities after the court’s order, including statements of accounts from ICICI Bank Ltd, were received by them and “from the scrutiny of these statements of accounts, it was revealed that certain transactions took place on October 18-19, 2007.
“However, the supporting instruments/vouchers/documents, on the basis of which these transactions/entries were recorded could not be summoned as these transactions were unknown until the said documents were produced by ICICI Bank Ltd,” it said.
CBI told the court that summoning of these documents “are also essential to place the truth” before it and it would establish the true picture of the transactions reflected in the said statements of accounts.
“On the facts and circumstances of the present case, the exigencies of justice require that the discretion vested in this court is exercised and the prayer made by the prosecution is allowed,” CBI said adding they are conducting the trial with utmost sincerity.
CBI also moved a separate plea for recalling prosecution witness Nitin Jain, whose statement has already been recorded, saying there “appears to be slight inconsistency” in his testimony regarding the cut off date.
The agency had alleged in its charge sheet that the top officials of Reliance ADAG were also involved in day-to-day affairs of Swan and Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd.
Group MD of Reliance ADAG Gautam Doshi, group President Surendra Pipara and senior vice president Hari Nair, along with Reliance Telecom Ltd, have been charge sheeted for entering into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the government by getting licenses in an illegal manner.