15 Dec : The CBI on Wednesday carried out searches at the premises of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and former TRAI chairman Pradeep Baijal in connection with the alleged Rs 22,000 crore 2G spectrum scam, a week after conducting raids at the residences of former Telecom Minister A Raja.
About 150 sleuths of the investigating agency swooped down at 27 places in Tamil Nadu and seven in Delhi in the wee hours and began searches which included some auditors and accountants of Raja besides the premises of Radia and Baijal, official sources said on Wednesday.
Radia’s office — Vaishnavi Corporate Communications — and her farm house in South Delhi were among the first of the premises searched by the CBI, the sources said, adding some of the persons who had been closely associated with the handling of accounts and funds of Raja were also been searched by the agency.
The residence of Baijal, who retired in 2006 after serving as TRAI chairman for nearly three years, was being also searched. He is currently working with Radia.
The allegation against him was that as the chairman of the regulatory body, which recommends various policies to the Government, he had helped some telecom firms.
A former IAS officer of 1966 batch, Baijal was the first Disinvestment Secretary after the ministry was formed.
These searches come exactly a week after the 8th December searches at the residence of Raja and his four close associates including his personal secretary R K Chandolia in connection with the scam.
47-year-old Raja was forced to resign as minister on 14th November in the wake of the CAG’s report that the rates at which 2G spectrum was allotted resulted in a possible loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
Raids were also conducted at the residences of former Telecom Secretary Siddarth Behura, Chandolia, Member Telecom Commission K Sridhar and Deputy Director General in the Department of Telecom A K Srivastava.
Raja has been maintaining that he was ready for questioning by the CBI any time. The CBI had registered a case on 21st October 2009 against unknown Department of Telecom officials and private persons and companies for allegedly causing loss of Rs 22,000 crore to the exchequer.
The figure of the loses mentioned in the agency’s FIR were based on the findings of Central Vigilance Commission which had referred the case to the CBI.
The CBI has earlier searched offices of Wireless Planning Cell (WPC), the department responsible for allocating Spectrum, and the office of Deputy Director General (Access Services) of the Telecom Ministry to probe the allegations of connivance of officials with private companies in allocation of Spectrum.
It had also conducted searches in eight cities housing headquarters of various telecom firms in connection with its probe into the scam.