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CBI, ED in hot pursuit of 2G cash trail

Kumar Rakesh     February 10, 2012
A joint team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to visit Singapore and British Virgin Islands this month to probe what they believe is "illegal money transfer or other dubious investments " in Loop Telecom and Unitech, involved in the 2G scam.

According to official sources, ED had sent letters rogatory (LRs) to Singapore and Virgin Islands earlier and their visits would be a follow-up after not getting reply. "We are yet to decide on a date. Since replies to LRs take a lot of time, we have proposed this visit to expedite matters and get information from the authorities there," an ED official said.

The ED, sources said, suspects that Essar Group might have routed money to Loop Telecom through British Virgin Islands, a tax haven in Caribbean, in a circuitous manner to avoid detection. The CBI and ED have accused Essar of using Loop as a front to get around Clause 8 of Unified Access Service Licences guidelines, which say that a telecom company operating in a circle could not hold more than 10 per cent stake in another telecom company applying for licence in the same circle. Essar has more than 10 per cent stake in Vodafone-Essar.

Essar has been insisting that it owned only 2.5 percent stake in Loop and said that the CBI's findings were a result of different interpretation of a contractual issue as even different branches of the government, including the department of corporate affairs and the telecom ministry, have favoured it. Loop has also rejected the charges and said its business transactions have been lawful.

The ED's case is based on the CBI's FIR and the latter's charge sheet in special 2G court at Patiala House.

Officials also suspect Empecom Corporation, incorporated in Virgin Islands, was used by Unitech for money transfers under the garb of loan, equity and investments.

The team's visit to Singapore is linked to Unitech.

Telenor, which is based in Norway and had bought a majority stake in it, has facilities in Singapore, and ED officials said funds might have been diverted through the island country.

The special court had recently rejected Sanjay Chandra's, the managing director of Unitech, plea for permission to visit Singapore for treatment of his son after the CBI said that, along with ED, it was probing the money trail to Singapore.

Courtesy: Mail Today


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