Radia again feels heat as CBI, SFIO probe Tata-Unitech deal

18 Aug 2014


The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a first information report (FIR) and is probing alleged irregularities in a Rs1,700-crore land deal between Tata Realty and real estate firm Unitech.

As a consequence corporate lobbyist Niira Radia is again feeling the heat, as the government's corporate fraud wing has questioned the role of a now-defunct firm owned by Radia in the Rs1,700-crore loan transaction between Tata Realty and Unitech that took place in 2007. The money was allegedly used by Unitech to pay for 2G telecom licences.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has also recommended that the registrar of companies (RoC) examine the 2007 agreement, reports said. The CBI has sought a copy of the SFIO report.

The SFIO made a series of recommendations in its probe report on the operations of public relations and lobbying firm Vaishnavi Corporate Communications Ltd (VCCPL), which was owned by Radia. VCCPL also used to handle media relations for various Tata Group firms and Unitech.

''Tata Realty reiterates that it has comprehensively addressed questions from all government agencies and fully cooperated with all authorities in their investigations. Tata Realty stresses that it is committed to the highest standards of ethics and business conduct,'' a Tata Realty spokesperson said.

The SFIO report, sources said, has called for action against VCCPL and its group companies for various violations, including dubious auditing.

It also said income-tax department should look into probable capital gains and tax evasion after Unitech sold its shares in the telecom arm to Norwegian major Telenor.

The CBI, it is learnt, has told the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the 2G case, it would probe whether the advance given by Tata Realty was used by Unitech for real estate projects or for a telecom licence.

"The scrutiny and investigations on Vaishanvi Group conducted at the behest of vested interests, who continue to pursue the motive of causing harm to us. The final report of the SFIO points to certain technical violations under the Companies Act, 1956. We are seeking the suitable recourse available under law," a spokesperson of the Vaishnavi Group said.

Radia hit headlines in 2010 after her leaked conversations with politicians, businessmen, journalists and others became public during the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

The SFIO, which enjoys sweeping powers to investigate corporate misdemeanour and can take punitive action under the new Companies Act, 2013, has recommended action against 11 top VCCPL executives, reports said.

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