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India industrialists Anil Ambani and Ratan Tata quizzed

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Anil Ambani leaves a parliamentary complex after his appearance before the committee Mr Ambani is one of several prominent industrialists to testify before the panel

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A parliamentary committee has finished questioning two of India's most influential industrialists about a mobile telephone licensing scandal.
Anil Ambani and Ratan Tata faced tough questions in connection with what has been described as the biggest corruption scam to hit India in years.
Neither Mr Ambani nor Mr Tata are accused of any offence. Both answered questions voluntarily over an alleged multi-billion-dollar fraud in the bidding process for 2G telecoms licences in 2008.
Auditors estimate that India may have lost $40bn when the licences were sold for a fraction of their real value.
While Mr Ambani has not been implicated at all in the scandal, a number of employees of his Reliance ADA group have been.
Criminal conspiracy The BBC's Nidhi Dutt, in Bombay, says that Mr Ambani's appearance at the closed-door hearing had been keenly anticipated in India.
India mobile phone consumer India is the fastest growing market for mobile phones
His testimony comes days after three executives from Reliance Telecom, a unit of Reliance Communications, were officially charged with crimes related to the scam.
Former Telecoms Minister Andimuthu Raja was charged with criminal conspiracy and corruption in the case on Saturday. He denies any wrongdoing.
Authorities allege that in 2007 and 2008 more than 120 second generation phone licences may have been sold without proper auction and on a preferential basis.
Officials from Mr Tata's conglomerate, Tata Sons, say that he willingly took part in the hearings to talk about recent developments in India's telecom sector, including the allocation of 2G and 3G licences.
Indian MPs who questioned Mr Tata for three hours in connection with the alleged scam said that the industrialist had been "candid" in his responses.
The head of the panel MM Joshi said Mr Tata "answered clearly and very openly".
The scandal has rocked India's business and political establishments. Some say it may also have damaged the country's international reputation as an attractive place for international business.
'Unfair and inequitable' Police say that when the second generation phone licences were issued, various rules were violated and bribes were paid to favour certain firms.
India's former Telecom Minister A Raja at the Central Bureau of Investigation in Delhi on 24 December 2010 Former minister Andimuthu Raja was charged on Saturday in connection with the telecoms sale
Several were issued to firms with no experience in the telecoms sector in a process described by an auditor's report as lacking transparency and "undertaken in an arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner".
Correspondents say this could be the biggest corruption scandal to hit India. The country has the world's fastest growing mobile market, with more than 700 million subscribers.
The telecoms ministry is considering whether to cancel some 85 licences that auditors say were issued to firms which were ineligible for them.
The case is the latest in a series of corruption scandals to hit India and has damaged the credibility of the Congress-led government and its leader, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The cross-party parliamentary public accounts committee is currently examining the federal auditor's report into the scandal.
But the opposition has been demanding that the matter be investigated by a joint parliamentary committee, which has more scope.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12968147

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