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sub icon,width-300,resizemode-4/Mobile-Towers.jpgNEW DELHI: In a stunning twist to the 2G case, an audio tape of a CBI senior public prosecutor purportedly advising a key accused on how to counter prosecution's charge has emerged, breathing fresh life into the mega-swindle and bringing fresh trouble for the government.

The tape sent to the CBI anonymously has the agency's senior public prosecutor A K Singh speaking to Sanjay Chandra, MD of Unitech and one of the main accused in the scam case, tutoring him on how to strengthen his defence and weaken CBI's case against him. "I have been muddling up the matters only for you," Singh purportedly tells Chandra in the tape that has been sent for forensic investigation.

In a revealing bit, Singh asks the person purported to be Chandra what would be the value of a lawyer like him in the corporate sector. Chandra replies by mentioning a monthly salary of Rs 3 -4 lakh a month , excluding the daily appearance fee which according to him doubled in the wake of 2G scam.

CBI confirmed the tape and said Singh has been removed and a preliminary inquiry filed to investigate the case.

The September tape, the origin of which remains a puzzle amid speculation that corporate rivals could be behind the sting, has the prosecutor further claiming that he has misled a CBI DIG in order to help Chandra. He coaches the accused that he should blame the press release where the cut off date for eligibility of spectrum was changed in order to rebut the allegation that Unitech was singled out by Raja for favour.

The conversation touches on the deposition of senior DOT official A K Srivastava incriminating Chandra. Srivastava had in August 2012 told the 2G court that A Raja's private secretary R K Chandolia had asked him to stop receiving new applications for 2G licences once he had received papers from Unitech group firms.

Singh who has now been replaced by K K Goyal as CBI's prosecutor in the 2g case, also advises Chandra to quietly get the MOU matter out of way: perhaps a reference to Unitech's deal with Telenor where the Norewigian telecom giant paid Rs 6,100 crore for 60% stake in the former's telecom venture. The transaction has been cited by CBI as evidence that the Rs 1651crore Unitech and others paid for the 2G spectrum was a scam.

Going by the purported tape, Singh guides Chandra to orders of the Supreme Court and Allahabad HC which could help defence, and discusses Unitech's issues with the ministry of corporate affairs.

AK Singh also tells Chandra that Shahid Balwa, another accused and co-promoter of Mumbai-based DB group, has "ruined everyone's interest" by his poor legal strategy.

Chandra and Singh were examined by the CBI on Monday. In a statement issued later, Unitech described the contents of the tape as concocted, stressing that Chandra would cooperate with the investigation. Attempts to contact Singh for his version did not succeed.

The CBI reacted to the scandalous embarrassment by launching a Preliminary Enquiry, taking Singh off the 2G case. It also informed the Supreme Court which is monitoring the investigation, Central Vigilance Commission and the government.

The fear of sabotage of prosecution brings the spotlight back on the huge scam, widely seen as symbolizing crony capitalism and underlining the politico-corporate nexus, just when it appeared to be receding from public discourse. The multi-billion scam which along with Commonwealth Games bruised the UPA and raised doubts about India as a safe investment destination. But it had lately retreated to fringes, despite the occasional reports on sparring between the prosecution and defence counsel in the court and the slugfest in the Joint Parliamentary Committee between ruling coalition and opposition members.

The revelation can stoke up the flagging attention, with anti-corruption activist Prashant Bhushan alleging that Singh's purported collusion was part of an effort to hush up the scam case, rather than in instance of individual indiscretion.

It can also breathe fresh life into the Oppostion's effort to corner the government in the Joint Parliamentary Committee, undercutting the rather successful maneuver of Congress to turn the allegations of scam into an extension of partisan politics.

The proceedings of the JPC on Tuesday promised to be interesting and there was even speculation that the Opposition may press for the extension of the term of the panel to cover the Singh-chandra tape.

CBI has accused Chandra and Unitech of several criminal acts in the 2G scandal -cheating, forgery, and collusion with former telecom minister A Raja and other DOT officials as part of the alleged conspiracy where they and several other corporate houses got 2G spectrum way below the going market rate.

The CBI has alleged that Chandra and Unitech forged documents s to qualify for the spectrum, with the telecom ministry under Raja helping by arbitrarily changing the eligibility criteria to favour the company and a few others at the expense of others.

The CBI would inform the Joint Parliamentary Committee inquiring the scandal on Tuesday about the developments.

Confirming CBI's investigation into the tape, CBI director Ranjit Sinha said, "We have registered a PE... We have transferred him (AK Singh) to some other work." He said the agency did not believe that its strategy in the CBI court has been compromised by Singh's collision with the accused.

CBI sources said the PE was registered four days ago after the agency received the audio recording at its office from anonymous sources. CBI Spokesperson Dharini Mishra said that Sanjay Chandra, the managing director of Unitech and an accused in the 2G scandal, and AK Singh were examined on Monday regarding the tape. Reports said the voices in the tape were that of Singh and Chandra.

"It has come to the notice of the CBI that a Public Prosecutor was allegedly in touch with, and was discussing certain points regarding prosecution strategy with an accused in the 2G Spectrum allocation case, which is currently under trial before the court of Special CBI Judge at Patiala House Courts. These allegations are being probed," the CBI Spokesperson said in an official statement. It said the agency "maintain strict vigilance over its investigation teams and prosecution officers and no instance of professional misconduct is taken lightly."

Source [timesofindia]

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