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Cases filed in telecom scam

New Delhi, Oct. 1: The CBI has filed cases against eight persons, including an official of Motorola, in a Rs 1,000-crore telecom equipment scam that came to light during a raid on the house of a private consultant.

The CBI action followed an income-tax raid which threw up papers that suggested the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd had placed three tenders with a company without following procedures. The tenders dealt with telecom equipment valued at Rs 1,000 crore.

Rajeev Gupta, the consultant whose house was raided, is among those slapped with the cases. Cases have also been registered against three BSNL and MTNL officials of the rank of deputy director-general.

Gupta and a colleague at Nirman Management Consultancy, Sushil Kumar Mishra, have been accused of manipulating the tenders. Gupta has been charged under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing classified documents.

The Motorola official figuring in the case has been identified as Tarvinder Singh. The CBI has levelled allegations against two executives of the Bangalore-based United Telecom, too.

The CBI’s first information report refers to an e-mail purportedly sent by Tarvinder to Gupta, requesting the consultant to “use his personal influence so that the technical aspects of the Motorola bid are taken care of by the CDMA technical evaluation committee of MTNL”.

Motorola, United Telecom and Huewai, a Chinese company, had put in bids for a contract for equipment based on CDMA (code division multiple access).

The FIR describes the “movement” of Rs 50 lakh allegedly paid by Romy Sharma of United Telecom to Gupta. According to the CBI, the agency had alerted income-tax officials after it was tipped off that Sharma was to deliver Rs 50 lakh to Mishra.

When tax sleuths seized the cash, Sharma told them that it was to be delivered to Gupta, who allegedly acted as a conduit between private companies and the two government-run companies for “fixing” tenders, the FIR said.

Stung by the controversy, BSNL and MTNL today offered to open up their records for public scrutiny. The two companies said their tender systems were transparent and there was no scope of corruption at any level.

Narender Sharma, chairman and managing-director of MTNL, said: “We are ready to render all help and even the records to the investigating agencies to bring the guilty, if any, to book. We are committed to being transparent in our company.”

An MTNL director said the company is ready to “open up our records for the officials to examine them”.

Prithipal Singh, chairman and managing-director of BSNL, said: “We have a proper mechanism for evaluating the tender and no one person was involved. Our records are there for them to see and examine.”

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