CBI registers preliminary enquiry to probe role of banks in 2G scam

Last Updated 09 January 2011, 12:27 IST

The PE was registered by the Bank Securities and Fraud Cell of the CBI against unknown bank officials, official sources said here today.

The allegation is that some banks had allegedly violated the laid down norms and provided finance to two real estate companies who made forays into the telecom market by procuring the spectrum auctioned during the said period, the sources said.
This is the second PE registered by the CBI in connection with the 2G spectrum scam besides a regular case against unknown officials of the Department of Telecom and private companies.

According to the PE, the banks provided loans, worth over Rs 11,500 crore, to two real-estate companies by completely ignoring the risk factors, given that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had already registered a case in the 2G scam and the CBI had begun its probe.

The public sector banks allotted Rs 10,000 crore to Unitech and Rs 1,538 crore to STel, based just on the licence papers issued by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

Out of the Rs 10,000-crore loan to Unitech, the major chunk was disbursed by the State Bank of India which provided a loan of Rs 8,050 crore to the Unitech during 2009-2010.
The other banks which gave money to Unitech for its Uninor company were Corporation Bank, Allahabad Bank, South Indian Bank, Canara Bank, Oriental Bank, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Yes Bank.

The other company was STel which got the Rs 1538-crore loan from IDBI and IDBI Trusteeship Services Limited, during the period between July to November 2009.
In December last year, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on public sector banks for their role in the 2G spectrum scam. A two-judge bench of Justices G S Singhvi and AK Ganguly had said that massive amounts were lent by some public sector banks to the 2G licencees and it must be investigated.

The bench had pointed out that about Rs 600-700 crore were lent out as if it was an amount like Rs 60-70.

The court also questioned how did public sector banks continued to disburse loans to telecom companies even after the CBI registered an FIR in connection with the 2G scam and searched the premises of the telecom companies in October 2009. One of the banks, State Bank of India, lent Rs 10,000 crore to Unitech during 2009-2010. The court said that the disbursement of such a huge loan amount must be investigated.

Earlier, on January four, the CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry to look into possible criminal aspects in the telecom policy since 2001.The PE was registered against "unknown persons" with an aim to ascertain as to whether the "first-come-first-serve basis" provision passed by the then Cabinet led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee was followed or not.
The CBI is likely to go into the minutes of the meetings held by successive Telecom Ministers which included late Pramod Mahajan, Arun Shourie and Dayanidhi Maran.
According to the sources, nearly 50 licences were given out on the first-come-first-serve basis and Bharti, Vodafone and Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.

The sources said that documents of the companies who have been awarded the contract would also be examined. The Supreme Court had on December 16 directed the agency to widen its investigation to cover the grant of licences by both the NDA and the UPA regimes between 2001-2007 and submit a report by February 10 this year.

(Published 09 January 2011, 12:24 IST)

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