Refuses to identify group companies whose documents she had signed
Tina Ambani, wife of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group chairman Anil Ambani, was also declared an adverse witness on Friday by the prosecution in the 2G spectrum allocation case after she refused to identify the group companies whose documents she had signed or whose board meetings she had presided over.
On Thursday, the prosecution declared Mr. Ambani a hostile witness.
Counsel for Ms. Ambani, Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi, objected when Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit sought the special court’s permission to cross-examine her, declaring her an adverse witness. Mr. Lalit said the witness “has not disclosed true facts before this court regarding identification of some persons/companies and the business conducted at the meetings of these companies.”
‘No cause for questions’
At this, counsel for Ms. Ambani said that as she had not given any prior statement to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the case, and nor had she denied her signatures on the documents shown to her, there was no cause for the prosecution to put questions to her.
However, Special Judge O.P. Saini overruled their objections, saying “her adverseness springs from her not recalling about the companies relating to which she signed the documents.’’
“In the instant case, though there is no previous statement of witness, nor has she introduced any new fact adverse to the prosecution, but has certainly signed some documents, which have been shown to her. As such, her adverseness springs from her not recalling about the companies relating to which she signed the documents. Accordingly, objection is overruled and the learned prosecutor is permitted to put one or two questions, as prayed,” Mr. Saini said.
Later, in reply to her cross-examination by the prosecution, Ms. Ambani said: “It is wrong to suggest that I know everything about six companies, that is, ADAE Ventures (P) Limited, AAA Consultancy Services Co. (P) Limited, Tiger Traders (P) Limited, Zebra Consultants (P) Limited, Parrot Consultants (P) Limited and Swan Consultants (P) Limited, and I am deliberately withholding facts from the court in this regard.”
“It is wrong to suggest that I know Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair [two of the accused], and I am deliberately withholding their role from the court in the aforesaid companies. However, I know Gautam Doshi [another accused], as tax consultant and socially. It is wrong to suggest that I am deliberately withholding his role in the aforesaid companies,” she said.
Ms. Ambani began recording her evidence saying “I have no role in the running of ADAG, as I am a housewife, run a hospital and do a lot of social work. I have never been associated [myself] with any company of this group.”
However, when the prosecutor started confronting her with the documents of these companies one by one, she admitted putting her signature against her photograph on them. She also identified her signature and photograph and that of her husband on cards of persons authorised to operate the bank accounts of some of these companies. When she was shown the bank declarations of these companies, she, however, said she was not acquainted herself with them, nor with their contents. “I had signed these documents when they were sent to me for signing by the professional team of the companies, and I had no reason not to trust them.”
Answering a question regarding her presiding over a board meeting of one of these companies as mentioned in the minutes shown to her, Ms. Ambani said: “I chaired this meeting, if it is so minuted. The business shown to have been transacted must have been transacted, if it has been minuted therein.”
“If the shares shown to have been allotted in resolution No. 3 in the names of myself, Sh. Anil Ambani and Sh. Ramesh Shenoy and have been minuted so…, it must have been done. If the transfer of one share from Sh. Ramesh Shenoy to Sh. Anil Ambani has been minuted in resolution No. 8, it must have been done,” she said.
To a question about another company of the Group, Ms. Ambani said: “Transfer of some shares has been recorded from Sh. Ramesh Shenoy to me and from Sh. Hasit Shukla to Master Jai Anshul and Master Jai Anmol, both of whom are my sons, and it must have been done as it is so recorded.”
“I have been shown minutes of [the] board meeting held on 19.06.2005,… wherein my husband and myself have been shown present as directors. We must have attended this meeting as it is so minuted,” she said.
But when the prosecutor asked her whether she recalled her role in these companies as chairperson of some board meetings, authorised signatory for opening bank accounts and a director on seeing these documents, she said she did not recall any of the roles, but if it was so minuted or documented, she must have so acted. “I do not recall any of my aforesaid role, but if it is so minuted/documented, I must have so acted, as the matter is as old as 2006.”