MCA seeks SFIO probe status on Tata-Unitech deal
New Delhi: The Corporate Affairs Ministry has asked financial fraud investigative agency SFIO to provide a status report on a probe that is said to have found 'dubious' transactions between Tatas and realty firm Unitech even as the two companies denied any wrongdoings.
The SFIO (Serious Fraud Investigation Office) probe was ordered by the Ministry last year into the affairs of Niira Radia-led PR firm Vaishnavi, which used to handle media relations of various Tata group firms and Unitech.
While SFIO is yet to submit its final report on the case, its Mumbai office is said to have communicated to its head office here that certain 'dubious' transactions disguised as realty transactions took place between Tatas and Unitech.
Among others, the report is also said to have suggested prosecution of five senior management personnel at Tatas, as also against four top Unitech executives and one at Vaishnavi.
Asked to comment on the matter, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot said his ministry has not received a report from SFIO as yet and he has sought a status report from the agency.
"The ministry has so far received no such report. I have asked the agency (SFIO) to come and brief me as to what the status of the report is," Pilot told reporters on the sidelines of a CII event here.
In reply to queries in this regard, a Tata Sons spokesperson said: "The Tata group has comprehensively addressed questions from all Government agencies and fully cooperated with all authorities in their investigations, including the SFIO.
"The group has not seen any SFIO report so far; as such, we are not in a position to address any specific questions relating to any such report. We stress that our group is committed to the highest standards of ethics and business conduct."
A spokesperson for Unitech also said that "the Tata- Unitech transaction was a legitimate and bona fide business transaction between two real estate companies."
Earlier in the morning, Corporate Affairs Secretary Naved Masood said that the report is still awaited from SFIO.
"The report (is) awaited," Masood said when asked about the findings of SFIO probe, and refused to elaborate further.
As per the SFIO Mumbai report, it is suspected that a Rs 1,700-crore realty deal between Tatas and Unitech in 2007 could have been meant for funding Unitech's telecom licence issued in January 2008.
Tata group's dealings with Vaishnavi entities are also reportedly under scanner.
A Vaishnavi spokesperson denied any role of the company in any commercial land transactions between Tata and Unitech and questioned the veracity of any "conclusive report" in the investigations related to its companies.
Radia hit headlines in 2010 after her leaked conversations with various politicians, businessmen, journalists and others became public.