Saturday, May 22, 2010

2G Spectrum Scandal : A.Raja - Nira Radia conspiracies : TAPPED and TRAPPED


TAPPED and TRAPPED

Govt taps PR honcho’s phone, gets clinching evidence against Raja

The cat is finally out of the bag. The CBI has acquired clinching evidence showing that a high-profile woman public relations lobbyist acted as powerbroker in the mutli-crore 2G spectrum scam and that she was in regular touch with Telecom Minister A Raja.

The investigating agency unearthed damning evidence of wheeling-dealing in the spectrum scam by authorised tapping of telephones of several persons, including Nira Radia, who runs several public relations and consultancy companies — like Vaishnavi Corporate Consultants, Noesis Strategic Consulting Services, Vitcom Consulting and Neucom Consulting.

All these companies are filled with retired bureaucrats, who ostensibly lobby with the Government on behalf of different companies. Radia is an NRI, who landed in India in early 2000 for some liaison work for aviation companies. Of the nine companies that benefited from the dubious spectrum allocation by Raja, the CBI found that four companies were “serviced” by Radia.

Highly-placed sources said the CBI was denied permission by top authorities to interrogate Radia even though the telephone intercepts clearly exposed her role in the scam, which cost an estimated Rs 1,00,000 crore to the exchequer.

A communication between the Income Tax Department and the CBI shows that nine phone lines were tapped by the I-T Department’s investigation wing. The first phase of 120 days of tapping started on August 20, 2008, and the second phase of 180 days on May 11, 2009.

Sources in the CBI said that in addition to Radia’s, the telephone lines of several other influential businessmen, politicians and advertising professionals were tapped for uncovering the extent of lobbying in the scam.

Sources said that the first-phase conversation tapping, lasting 120 days, exposed the parking of ill-gotten money from the spectrum scam in the form of real estates holdings, company shares and derivates within the country and in tax havens like Mauritius.

Documents available with The Pioneer show that Central Bureau of Investigation DIG Vineet Agarwal had on November 16, 2009, sought call detail records of Nira Radia from Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) Milap Jain. “It has been reliably learnt that certain middlemen, including one Ms Nira Radia of M/s Noesis Consultancy, were actively involved in the above-mentioned (spectrum scam) criminal conspiracy,” Agarwal’s letter to Jain, seeking the detailed call records, stated.

On November 20, 2009, as per Jain’s instructions, Joint Director of Income Tax Ashish Abrol provided the details of conversation between Radia and key players in the spectrum scam, including A Raja.

“There are some direct conversations between Ms Radia and the Telecom Minister. In some other conservations, Ms Radia boasts of having helped some of the telecom operators in their efforts to obtain licences/spectrums. Ms Radia has also been in regular touch with Shri Chandolia,” confirmed Abrol to the CBI. RK Chandolia was Raja’s private secretary during the time of spectrum allocation and has since been elevated as an economic adviser in the Department of Telecommunication.

“On the basis of specific information received from CBDT, the telephone lines of Ms Nira Radia and some of her associates were put under observation after obtaining permission from the Home Secretary,” Abrol wrote to Agarwal in a letter, marked “Strictly confidential and top secret”.

“The intercept provides the conversation of the target and associates indicating laundering and structured payoffs, transactions and liaison for projects of telecom, petroleum and also the media,” the I-T Department communication to the CBI stated.

Radia’s companies are involved in consulting in telecom, power, aviation and infrastructure. These entities not only managed the media but, as per the recorded conversations, apparently tried to influence policy changes and decisions of various Government departments to suit the commercial requirements of their clients, confirmed the Income Tax Department’s investigation wing to the CBI after analysing the telephone conservations.

“From these conversations, it appears that Ms Nira Radia might have had some role with regards to the award of telecom licences. In a conversation, she guided a new telecom operator on the need to delay the inflow of funds from the overseas investor and not to give the impression to the Government that there has been any ‘windfall’ profit,” the letter added.

In the conversation details available with The Pioneer, Radia was talking about arranging huge money from abroad for Unitech Wireless, which is a major beneficiary in the spectrum scam.

According to CBI sources, Radia got information about the agency’s moves against her from her vast network in the South and North Blocks and left for London in February to avoid arrest for criminal conspiracy in the spectrum scam.

“The detailed telephone transcripts of Radia clearly show how our politicians and bureaucrats were hand in glove with the corporates in looting the public exchequer,” a top CBI official said.

Raja-Radia links go back 4 years

Telecom Minister A Raja had offered to help a woman public relations lobbyist, Nira Radia, four years ago get CCEA clearance for starting an airline -- a proposal that was shot down by other Ministers. But it was just the beginning. Later, Raja helped her get environmental clearance for some housing projects launched by two corporate giants. The telephone intercepts of Radia, as reported by The Pioneer on Wednesday, show that she was in touch with Raja regarding the 2G spectrum deal too.

Radia first got in touch with Raja through a woman politician in January 2006, when he was the Environment Minister. The woman who introduced Radia to Raja later became a Rajya Sabha member. Radia reportedly wanted Raja's support for lobbying with the Cabinet members in CCEA for getting approval to start an airlines company, known as Magic Airlines.

According to sources, Raja contacted three members of the CCEA to help out Radia. But they refused to back him. "It was a funny project. A real non-transparent project. There were lots of discrepancies in the mode of foreign investment," one such Minister told The Pioneer on Wednesday.

According to Environment Ministry sources, Radia became a frequent visitor and struck a big deal by getting environmental clearance for the pan-India project of housing development for the two big companies. This deal onwards, Radia's clout increased in the Environment Ministry. Due to the unceremonious exit of Dayanidhi Maran in May 2007, Raja landed in Telecom Ministry and Radia become a power centre as most of her big clients were key players in the sector. According to sources, the CBI investigated her role in the 2G spectrum scandal on the basis of confession of top DoT officials.

Sources said the CBI had evidence that just a few days before the spectrum allotment on January 10, 2008, a "criminal conspiracy" took place involving Radia and Raja. Of the allotted nine companies, four were served by Radia.

"The meeting between Raja and Radia along with the woman MP took place at Taj Mansingh hotel. The room was booked in the name of Radia. According to log book details of the official car and as per confessional statements by top DoT officials, the Minister's arrival at the hotel has been proven," said a senior CBI official.

The CBI sought permission to interrogate Radia after tapping her phone for over 300 days, but it was not allowed to do so by "highest authorities", said sources. Fearing her arrest, Radia left for London in February this year.

[The writer is Special Correspondent of ‘The Pioneer’ daily. The articles are published in the newspaper on April 28, 29 – 2010]

46 comments:

  1. If our legal system works efficiently against the honcho(s),Raja will be the "Rank" (hindi word).

    Nice story !!
    Kudos to you & your team.

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  2. Please keep writing..expose the unknown side to the world.

    Thanks Gopi

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  3. You are a marvelous professional as well as a true Patriotic Indian by heart. This nation needs scores of people like you to dig the scum out of these high profile offices which have become outposts of these white collared goons out to sell the country. The East India company was a better entity: at least we knew on the face of it who they were and what they did to loot us - but these,our own people,are a far dangerous virus and needs the antidote of alert journalism to eradicate them from their roots.

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  4. Dear really nice coverages...great..doing absolutely marvelous job

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  5. Dear Gopikrishnan

    i am not good in english but i am telling truth

    Relay Greate job indians are proud of you Especially Malyalies

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  6. We Malayalees PROUD oF YOU,
    A Model for Investigative Journalism.

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  7. You...You.... did a simple thing which might be more servisable than a prime minister to us. We really obliged to you.... dear Gopy..

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  8. അഭിമാനിക്കുന്നു സുഹൃത്തേ നിങ്ങളുടെ സാമൂഹിക പ്രതിബദ്ധതയില്‍

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  9. Great man, this is the real "courageous journalism". Those who keep it as a motto these days have been bought by the powerful dynasties of India. Be ware, all whistleblowers face almost the same fate.

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  10. Gopikrishnan heart felt congrats to your mission

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  11. Every journalist should be brave like you.. especially in a time when even the media is owned by political parties and deliver news in their favor ( with reference to networks in TN ). great job...

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  12. കലക്കി മാഷേ, ഗംഭീരം. നിങ്ങളെ എങ്ങിനെയെങ്കിലും clone ചെയ്ത് നൂറു പേരാക്കിയിരുന്നെങ്കില്‍!

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  13. പോരാട്ടം തുടരട്ടെ ...
    അഴിമതിരഹിത ഭാരതമാകട്ടെ നമ്മുടെ ലക്‌ഷ്യം ..
    എല്ലാവിധ ഭാവുകങ്ങളും ..

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  14. good job !!!! we need people like you. keep it up and take care

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  15. I'm a Malayalee living in U.S. I cant remember the last time I read such a professionally written investigative journalism piece. Congrats on bringing out the details of this unbelievable scam to the public's eye. You are doing a great service to the nation and we are all very proud of you.

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  16. Very Great job, Sir, Kudos to you

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  17. Press is one of the great pillars in democracy. Gopikrishnan has proved that. Let all patriots serve like this even if the looters usurp power. We should not be pessimistic that the government will save the culprits at last. What we want to do is that: fight against the corrupt Netas and Babus. Patriotism is not a delicious stuff sold through the fast food outlets. What Gopi has done is called true patriotism. Of late I was very much disappointed by our press because some parts of which were tainted by the paid news syndrome. Our press is still vibrant. That is what Gopi's efforts echo worldwide. The so called stalwarts of media are still in the second phase of Kumbhkarna- sleeping for six months. It is at least a jolt to wake them up.

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  18. jez quoting ur own words...
    "ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ഏറ്റവും വലിയ പത്രമായ ടൈം ഓഫ് ഇന്ത്യയുടെ ചെയര്‍മാനെ തിഹാര്‍ ജയിലിലിടാന്‍ ധൈര്യം കാണിച്ച പണ്ഡിറ്റ് നെഹ്റുവിനെപ്പോലുള്ളവര്‍ ജീവിച്ച രാജ്യമാണ് ഇന്ത്യ.പിന്നെയാണോ ബര്‍ക്ക ദത്തിനേയും സിംഗ്‌വിയേയും പോലുള്ള ഇന്നലത്തെ മഴക്ക് കുരുത്ത തകരകള്‍ "(Asianet News)

    We all Proud of U Gopichettans.be brave n go ahead.May God Bless U.

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  19. Kudos..Mr.Gopikrishnan and your team..with all the speculations around, and now that the tapes are out including Barkha and Vir Sanghvi involved in it..The whole system is corrupted which includes Politicians , bureaucrats and Corporate giants and the media persons..

    with all national level media covering up this, you had the courage to bring it out to public..

    keep doing the good work and best f luk..

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  20. രാജയുടെ വാഗ്ദാനങ്ങളില് വീണുപോകാതെ, നാടിനോടുളള/സമൂഹത്തോടുളള പ്രതിബദ്ധത കാത്തുസൂക്ഷിച്ച ഗോപിക്ക് അഭിവാദ്യങ്ങള്. ബര്ക്കാദത്തിനെപ്പോലുളള കോര്പറേറ്റ് എഡിറ്റര്മാരുടെ ഇടയില് താങ്കളെപ്പോലുളളവരിലാണ് നാടിന്റെയും സമൂഹത്തിന്റെയും പ്രതീക്ഷ. We all Proud of You. May God Bless You.

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  21. Great Job..kudos to your courage Sir..:)

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  22. India as sovereign nation is blessed by people like you who are real patriots saying it loud and clear the TRUTH which needs attention from all Indians.Bravo!

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  23. why have you totally blanked out the names of barkha dutt and vir sanghvi from the story? another case of media dishonesty, biasedness and corruption. are you in hands with them or just camaraderie

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  24. Sir,
    Can you please point us to the whole repostitory of tapes/transcripts - about 5851 tapes containing 30-40 mins each

    Thanks,
    Venkat

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  25. ബര്‍ക്ക ദത്തെ, നീയും!
    http://kalpakenchery.blogspot.com/2010/11/blog-post.html

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  26. Keep continuing your patriotic work....do you think is it possible to organise a youth network against corruption in all states of India?

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  27. I read the last madhyamam weekly. sir... u r great. u have done a very great job.No u have done the duty of a journalist. who save our nation ? I am a malayali...
    I am proud of u..
    may God bless you....

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  28. Dear Gopalakrishnan,

    Prophetic Mission indeed!!

    You have conquered all patriotic Indians all over the world with this revelation 2G!!!

    You are a model to the entire journalists in India and probably to the world!!. You will be in history of India in unearthing corruption. In the history of journalism, your name shall be a reference!!

    Can't stop appreciating your moral courage!!!

    Wish you all support to your similar endeavours.

    Clement Stephen

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  29. Dear Gopi,

    I hold out hope for the country thanks to honest and brave folk like yourself and the team that is behind you.

    Hoping to see your ilk multiply.

    A Kumar.
    http://bharat-2020.blogspot.com/2010/10/sponge-factor.html

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  30. Thanks for this expose, Gopi. After this expose you must be getting a lot of job offers from other dailies, no? Do you want to join them? How long this "currently" with the Pioneer will stay? I hope you stay with the Pioneer and resist the temptation of working with the "big newspaper".

    A well wisher,

    Thanks and regards

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  31. The rabbit hole has reached the ISI:
    The major beneficiary of Raja`s spectrum allocation,Etisalat DB(swan telecom) is one of the leading telecom operators in pakistan, under the name PTCL and more interstingly pakistan`s ISI has a major share in it.These are not my words but excerpts from Dr subrahmaniam swamy ,the renowned petitioner of India. As i already knew,the greatest scam of Independent India would be incomplete without pakistan`s name in it.
    http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/news/subramanian-swamy-on-telcom-ministry-s-course-of-action/178754

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  32. Corruption is the prime source of terrorism . Mr GOPI you are not alone millions of people share same thoughts . May god bless you . Girish Ramachandran (we met recently at BHIMA )
    mail at girishedta@gmail.com

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  33. I would like to firstly congratulate you on the IBN award.
    You well and truly have done the country proud; At a time when yellow journalism and propagandist media seems to be taking the forefront, people like yourself have made a HUGE difference in the upbringing of the so called 'image' of the Indian media, Gives us a lot of hope.
    I as an Indian citizen living abroad for many years now have come to witness (Though from afar) the slow but steady decline in the standards of our journalism. Very refreshing to see this kind of bold and daring exposures; Kudos to you kind sire. Once again, my heartfelt greetings.

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  34. read this article and felt very proud of you Mr Gopi.. all the best and keep doing this great work..

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  35. In salo ko to saja milni hi thi !

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