2G: 'Spice Was Ready With Money Before Issuance of LoIs'

New Delhi
2G: 'Spice Was Ready With Money Before Issuance of LoIs'
A Spice group official today told a Delhi court that Spice Communications Ltd was "ready" with demand drafts for payment of entry fee even before the announcement for issuance of letters of intent (LoIs) by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

Deposing as a prosecution witness before Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who is hearing the 2G spectrum scam case, Spice group firm S Mobility's Executive Director Preeti Malhotra said the company had prepared some documents in anticipation of issuance of LOIs on January 10, 2008.

She added she along with other officials of the firm had gone to Sanchar Bhawan on January 10, 2008 to collect the LoIs and after collecting them, she had handed over the same to her colleagues who had begun completing formalities like attaching bank guarantees and demand drafts etc.

Malhotra's statement assumes significance as the CBI, in its first charge sheet filed on April 2 last year, had alleged that Unitech Ltd and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, facing trial in the case, had "prior knowledge" of the first-come-first-served (FCFS) process and they were keeping the demand draft ready since early October-November 2007 itself.

"After collecting the LOIs, I came downstairs and handed over the same to Umang Das and Akhilesh Saxena (company officials). They started doing certain formalities like attaching bank guarantees, demand drafts etc.

"By that time, our chief financial officer (CFO) had also reached almost at the same time with the bank guarantees. After completing the formalities, all of us left Sanchar Bhawan at the same time," she said.

"CFO of my company got the drafts prepared for payment of entry fee on January 9, 2008 itself. We did not have any inside information from any source in the DoT. We had prepared some documents in anticipation of issuance of LOIs," she said.

The CBI in the charge sheet had said the "ill conceived" design of establishing four counters at Sanchar Bhawan to distribute LoIs to telecom firms had made a "mockery" of the FCFS policy.

She said the company had filed the applications for Unified Access Services (UAS) licences on August 31, 2006 and since then they were "pursuing these applications including by writing letters to DoT."

Malhotra, who was the company secretary of Spice Communications Ltd at the time of submission of applications for UAS licences, said the sequence of her company was at counter number four and out of 20 telecom service areas for which Spice Communications had applied, she was given LOIs for four service areas, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and Delhi.

"I think we were at number one at counter number four. We did not seek any favour from anyone to get number one at counter number four," she said.

The witness also said the DoT had rejected LoIs to the company for remaining 16 service areas on net worth criteria.

"On January 10, 2008 LoIs were issued to us only for four circles and for remaining 16 service areas, we were given rejection letters.....

"Our applications for 16 service areas were rejected based on net worth criteria. This fact was mentioned in the rejection letter handed over to me on January 10, 2008," she said.

She also said that the promoters of Spice Communications Limited had sold their stake, which was around 40 per cent, to Idea in June 2008 for an amount of around Rs 2,700 crore, though she did not remember the exact amount.
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