Anand Subramaniam of Reliance Capital says cheques for Rs.900 crore were signed by his colleagues at Reliance ADA Group
The trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case that involves high-profile politicians, business tycoons and corporate honchos began on Friday with the deposition of two witnesses in a cramped courtroom.
Vice-president of Reliance Capital Anand Subramaniam was the first to depose and his examination-in-chief, in which the prosecution puts questions to him based on the statement under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code that he gave before a CBI investigating officer, proceeded with a fair bit of acrimony, with defence lawyers repeatedly objecting to Senior Public Prosecutor A.K. Singh's alleged attempts to “lead” the witness to giving certain answers favouring the prosecution.
Mr. Subramaniam identified four HDFC Bank cheques — two dated May 22, one dated May 25 and another dated June 25, 2007 — for a total sum of Rs.900 crore issued by Reliance Communications in favour of Swan Telecom. They were signed by his colleagues at the Reliance ADA Group. “I identify their signatures as I am familiar with their handwriting and signatures as we were working together. These cheques were issued from the account of Reliance Communications in favour of Swan Telecom,” he said.
Asked to which company account the number 0600310001874 belonged to, he said he was “unable to tell as to which company this account number belonged to, but the last four digits ‘1874' were similar to an account of the Reliance Communications Limited.” He did not know the purpose for which the cheques were issued.
(In its charge sheet, the CBI said Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair “structured/created net worth of a company, Swan Telecom, out of funds arranged from Reliance Telecom or its associates for applying to the Department of Telecom for UAS licences in 13 circles where Reliance Telecom had no GSM spectrum” in a manner that Swan Telecom's association with Reliance “may not be detected,” so that the DoT did not reject its application.)
To a question from Vijay Aggarwal, counsel for R. K. Chandolia, why he signed a letter dated March 1, 2007, addressed to the HDFC Bank, Fort Branch in Mumbai, on behalf of the Reliance Communications, despite being on the payroll of Reliance Capital, Mr. Subramaniam said, “I have not committed any irregularity or crime. It is a normal practice in the private sector to be on the payroll of one company and to be authorised signatory for many other companies. This is done for normal business convenience.” He added that he did not know “who were the shareholders or what was the nature of these companies or who were the directors thereof.” During the examination-in-chief, he said he did not remember under whose instructions he signed this letter.