Reliance Telecom Ltd, one of the accused firms in the 2G case, on Wednesday told a Delhi court that it did not hold substantial equity in Swan Telecom at the time of grant of spectrum licences.
“No criminal case is made out against Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) as it held only 9.9 per cent equity in Swan Telecom when the latter was granted spectrum licences,” the counsel for Anil Ambani promoted Telecom Company told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, alleged that Reliance Telecom structured Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL) as its front company to circumvent the then existing telecom policy which held existing players ineligible for new licences in the same circle.The Anil Ambani promoted firm was ineligible to get the spectrum as the Department of Telecom (DoT) had debarred the CDMA player from entering into GSM telephony sector, it said.
The counsel for RTL denied CBI’s allegation that when DoT allowed use of dual technology, RTL washed its hands off Swan Telecom.
“So far as the guidelines (of DoT) are concerned, they only prohibited an existing telecom company from holding shares in excess of 10 per cent in another telecom company. We held 9.9 per cent stake in Swan telecom and no case is made out against us,” the defence lawyer said.
The guidelines did not prohibit Reliance Telecom from funding another telecom company, he said, adding the Reliance group company only held preferential equities in Shahid Balwa promoted Swan Telecom.
“STPL cannot be held as an associate firm of RTL as the latter did not have any say in deciding the board members of STPL,” the lawyer said opposing the framing of charges against the firm.
The CBI, in its first charge sheet, alleged that top Reliance ADAG officials–Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara–had conspired with former Telecom Minister A Raja and others.
“The accused persons structured the holding of Swan in a manner that only 9.9 per cent equity was held by RTL and rest 90.1 per cent was shown as held by Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, although the entire company was held by the Reliance ADA Group of companies through the funds raised from RTL,” the CBI had alleged.
RTL and its officials are accused of creating shell firms like Swan Telecom, Zebra Consultancy Services, Giraffe Consultancy Private Ltd and Parrot Consultants to create a web in which no company is a holding firm and the officials are the real masters, the CBI had alleged.
It had said that after Reliance ADAG applied for 2G licence through Swan Telecom, it got GSM spectrum in 13 circles under dual technology policy which rendered Swan Telecom useless for it and prompted it to withdraw its holding, transferring the shell firm to Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka.
“Accordingly, Reliance ADA Group withdrew its holding from Swan Telecom and the three accused transferred the control of Swan Telecom to co-accused Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka in order to facilitate them to cheat the DoT by getting UAS Licence in the name of Swan Telecom which was till October 18, 2007 ineligible for licence,” the probe agency had said.