ED cracks whip on Unitech and Swan; 2G loot to be attached

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Supreme Court of India
New Delhi, Apr 28: After the 2G spectrum scam became the topic of discussion due to its sheer magnanimity, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is all set to crack its whip on erring companies who unfairly benefited in the scam.

The ED has decided to attach the properties of two companies namely Unitech wireless and Swan Telecom within a period of two months. The fact has been communicated to the Supreme Court. Senior Counsel KK Venugopal commented on behalf of the ED, “The properties of the (telecom) companies worth Rs 2000 crore will be attached." The ED is currently investigating the massive money laundering involved in the 2G case and foreign exchange rule violation engaged by the companies.

The bench comprising Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly is hearing the high profile case.

Though Venugopal did not clearly name the two companies in court, he made references that gave away the identity of the companies. Speaking for the ED, he presented a fresh status report on the probe. He spoke on how the two companies got 2G licenses in throwaway prices taking advantage of their proximity to A Raja, the then Telecom Minister. Unitech's properties are estimated to be worth Rs 2,340 crore, while Swan Telecom's properties are worth Rs 2,800 crore.

'Attachment' is a legal term that refers to ED identifying properties which it thinks is part of the spoils of the crime. Such properties cannot be sold. The attachment process is likely to take some time. On enquiry of the bench, Venugopal said, “Within two months the entire process of attachment of the properties of the companies and adjudication under the provisions of the FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) and PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) will be completed."

Unitech spokesperson, however said that the move was not going to affect its ventures since Unitech Wireless was a separate entity focusing on the telecom business. It added, “Reports suggest that the ED will attach properties of some telecom companies named in the CBI charge-sheet . Unitech, a company engaged in real estate development, has not been named in the CBI chargesheet. We would like to further clarify that this on-going matter pertains to Unitech Wireless, which is a separate venture in the telecom business. Further, this matter will not have any adverse affect on Unitech and/ or its real estate business."

Venugopal in the status report, also divulged information about companies floated by corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's sister in British Virgin Islands under the Foreign Exchange Management Act or FEMA. Venugopal blew the whistle on this latest development and said, “If the bribe money was Rs 3,000 crores, then the FEMA violations were suspected to the tune of Rs 4,000 crores." On this latest expose Justice Ganguly commented, that "the figures are getting multiplied by the day".

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