Essar Group CEO Prashant Ruia questioned

Widening the ongoing probe into the alleged 2G spectrum scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may call for questioning Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha member and daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, and Sharad Kumar, Kalaignar TV's managing director. They hold 20 per cent equity each in “Kalaignar TV Private Limited'' which is alleged to have received funds to the tune of over Rs. 200 crore from Mumbai.

During its probe being monitored by the Supreme Court, the CBI stumbled upon the alleged transfer of over Rs. 200 crore from Cineyug of Mumbai to Kalaignar TV. It stated before the Special Judge on February 14, 2011 that the funds were arranged by Cineyug Films Private Ltd. to Kalaignar TV Private Ltd., which belongs to Sharad Kumar and others who are closely associated with the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, who has now been sent to judicial custody after sustained interrogation in the case.

The CBI stated that the funds were arranged by Cineyug Films from Shahid Balwa's DB Group, the promoter of new operator Etisalat DB and one of the main beneficiaries in the 2G scam, in which the family members of Mr. Balwa were the directors/shareholders.

“As of this moment, we have not taken any decision…but we may call Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar in the days to come for seeking clarifications from them and questioning them regarding transfer of funds to Kalaignar TV,'' authoritative sources within the CBI told The Hindu on Thursday.

On the other hand, Mr. Kumar has, in a statement, said the channel would have no objection to its accounts and documents being verified by the agencies.

A day after questioning Reliance ADA Group head, Anil Ambani, the CBI on Thursday questioned Essar Group CEO Prashant Ruia in the 2G case. CBI sources said that during Wednesday's questioning, Mr. Ambani and Mr. Raja were confronted with each other.

Top executives of at least four telecom firms have been questioned by the CBI after the Supreme Court directed it to check the eligibility criteria of operators who bagged 2G spectrum licences in 2008. Some more CEOs are also likely to be questioned by the CBI in this connection.

Mr. Ruia of the Essar Group, Vodafone's joint venture partner in Vodafone-Essar, has a 9.9 per cent stake in Loop Telecom (earlier known as BPL Mobile). Loop Telecom had received the permission to start pan-India GSM operations and its officials have already appeared before the CBI in the ongoing probe into the 2G spectrum allocation.

While applying for licences, Loop Telecom allegedly misrepresented the facts and its authorised share capital was only Rs. 5.2 crore as against the requirement of Rs. 128 crore.

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