New Delhi, Sep 10 (PTI) After a year's probe into auto-routing of international calls as local ones, the CBI has registered a case against four senior officials of Reliance Infocomm, before the split between Ambani brothers, and some unknown officials of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
The Reliance Infocomm officials have been alleged by the CBI of entering into a criminal conspiracy with certain officials of the BSNL and "masking" international calls as local ones through a specially designed software.
The CBI named Manoj Modi, the then Director of Reliance Infocomm, Akhil Gupta, the then CEO, A Shankar, the then Head of the company's Corporate Affairs, Pankaj Panwar, the then Head Regulator of the company and other unnamed officials of Reliance and BSNL in its case, the CBI sources said.
During the probe, the CBI would also ascertain the ramifications of the auto-routing of international calls vis-a-vis threat to the national security as pointed out by the the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), while imposing a penalty of Rs 150 crore on Reliance Infocomm for allegedly breaching the license conditions.
According to CBI, any call generated from foreign country used to land at three gateways in Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai from where collected calls were "masked" with the help of the software and sent as local ones to the Public System Telephone Network (PSTN).
The alleged re-routing of calls were done with a view to avoid payment of Access Deficit Charge, which private telecom operators are supposed to pay to BSNL to offset their unremunerative services in rural areas.
During the preliminary probe, the CBI quizzed Reliance Infocomm and BSNL's chief technical officers in connection with the alleged masquerading of calls by the private telecom giant to avoid payment of a fee, which initial estimates suggest costed the exchequer Rs 50 crore.
After registering the Preliminary Enquiry on September 15 last year, CBI had secured all files related to the case from DoT. It has so far estimated a loss of Rs 50 crore to the exchequer and the figure could go beyond it, they said.
Anil Ambani got Reliance Infocomm as part of an ownership settlement of the Reliance empire reached in June last year with his brother Mukesh.
The Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), while imposing a penalty of Rs 150 crore on Reliance Infocomm for allegedly breaching the license conditions, had also said in its order that this breach has put the "security of the nation in jeopardy."
Before the CVC handed over the case to CBI, the agency had already stumbled upon a nexus between some private telecom companies and DoT officials during its probe into illegal telephone exchanges that were unearthed in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh as part of a special drive recently.
The agency sources claimed that telephone cards were circulated in the US and Canada, where they were offering calls to India at 80 to 82 cents per minute.
The cards were being made available for evidence on record and an an overseas probe was not ruled out, the CBI sources said.
CBI books former top Reliance men in auto-routing of calls
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