Investigating agencies probing alleged financial irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation have now ordered scrutiny of all “cash transaction reports” related to the funding of payments by telecom players, banks and individuals involved in the grant of licences.
The probe monitored by the Supreme Court is being undertaken by the CBI, ED and the Income Tax department and according to sources, the agencies have asked for Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs) from various financial intelligence units under the Finance Ministry.
The agencies have sought two kinds of CTRs– “all cash transactions of the value of more than rupees ten lakhs or its equivalent in foreign currency and all series of cash transactions integrally connected to each other which have been valued below rupees ten lakhs or its equivalent in foreign currency”, to specifically probe charges and instances of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering, sources said.
The reports pertain to the period of 2007-08, while some of them may date back to earlier years as the apex court had widened the probe of the telecom policy from 2001 to 2008 covering both the NDA and the UPA regimes.
In view of the deadline of February 10 next year, the date by when the apex court has asked the agencies to submit a status report, the probe agencies have asked for all such CTRs to expedite their probe.
According to sources, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the intelligence unit of the Income Tax department are in possession of such cash reports, in the form of CTRs and Annual Information Returns (AIRs) respectively which they receive from various banks, financial institutions and filing of tax returns.
“The scrunity and analysis of CTRs will help agencies establish the money trail to and from the country and about funds routed through tax havens abroad,” sources said.
All the three agencies involved in the 2G probe have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FIU recently to obtain a “seamless and real time” data of CTRs and also Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) to probe cases in their domains.
Sources involved in the probe said that since India recently became a full member of the global anti-money laundering and counter terror financing body– the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)– the essential recommendation of maintaining and using the CTRs database “to support the fight against corruption” is being followed in spirit in the 2G case as it involved a huge flow of money.
The Supreme Court had said the investigation should also cover huge loans given by public sector banks. If DoT officials were signatory to the licence agreements, the CTRs in this regard will also be scrutinised, sources said.
“The issue raised in the case is not limited to only Rs 1.76 lakh crore but has a much wider compass. We would not like to prejudice the probe. But what happened in 2001 needs to be looked into. It is for the CBI to investigate and find out,” the Supreme Court bench had observed on December 16.
Former telecom minister A Raja’s counsel TR Andhyarujina, in his arguments, had maintained that his client had only been following up the 2001 policy initiated by his predecessors.
The court had also expressed surprise over public sector banks providing loans to the tune of Rs 10,000 crores to the 2G spectrum licensees on the basis of hypothecation of their respective licenses.