2G scam: CBI raids Raja`s residences, finds evidence; picks aide

A team of about 80 CBI sleuths is conducting raids in Delhi and Chennai.

New Delhi/Chennai: The CBI on Wednesday searched the homes
of ex-Telecom minister A Raja in New Delhi and Chennai and
four of his former aides besides a private firm in connection
with the 2G spectrum probe and claimed it had recovered
"incriminating" documents.

In a sweeping coordinated operation, the CBI also picked up Sadiq Basha, Managing Director of Chennai-based Greenhouse Exports said to be close to Raja, after searching his house. Bank details were sought from Basha and others, CBI
sources said.

"Searches conducted so far at around 14 places have
yielded recovery of incriminating documents," Vineeta Thakur,
DIG of CBI, who is officiating as agency spokesperson said.

Besides Raja, the CBI conducted searches at premises
of R K Chandolia, his former personal secretary, Siddhartha
Behuria, then DoT secretary, K Sridhar, then Member, Telecom
Commission, A K Srivastava, then Deputy Director General,
Access Service Wing, DoT.
CBI sources said Chandolia and Srivastava were
questioned and they may be quizzed again on Thursday. Sources also said some questions were put to Raja during
the searches at his Delhi home. The DMK leader may be
subjected to a formal questioning later, the sources said.

It is learnt that CBI officials visited the Canara Bank branch in Perambalur, Raja`s native town, and conducted enquiries. Officials of the bank in Trichy could not confirm or deny the CBI officials visit.

The CBI team reached Raja`s 2-A Motilal Nehru Marg residence in the national capital around 7 a.m. Raids continued through the morning in New Delhi as well as a few places in Tamil Nadu, Raja`s home state.

"The raids are being held at five places (in Delhi) and we are searching further... Raids are still on at different locations. It`s too early to give an update," CBI Director A.P. Singh told reporters here.

The CBI said there were allegations about serious irregularities in the award of Unified Access Services (UAS) licence to private mobile companies.

Thakur said as per "information received (by the CBI) there was criminal conspiracy between certain officials of the department of telecommunications and private persons/companies".

While CBI officials in Chennai initially told IANS that they had no information on the raids, a police officer in Perambalur said CBI officials raided his residence.

The AIADMK - the major opposition party in Tamil Nadu - has also demanded Raja`s arrest under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

But the CBI offensive was not hailed by the opposition.

Saying the raids were a bit late, AIADMK MP V. Maitreyan said the former minister should be arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"I hope the CBI`s action is not an eyewash. Let us wait and see," Maitreyan told IANS while declining to comment on the possible impact the CBI`s action would have in the Tamil Nadu politics.

Other opposition leaders, including Prakash Javadekar from the BJP and Gurudas Dasgupta from the Communist Party of India (CPI), echoed him and said the raids were an "eyewash".

Raja was forced to resign last month after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) indicted him in the spectrum allocation scam and for causing losses between Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) and Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) to the exchequer.

He is alleged to have sold spectrum licenses at rates much lower than the market.

The 2G spectrum saga had crippled parliament since Nov 10 as the opposition refused to give up its demand for a parliamentary probe into the scam.

-Agencies inputs