The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has given an ultimatum to the auditors of three telecom majors — Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel — to submit their final reports to the government by February 7. They are conducting a special audit into allegations of tax evasion.

Despite the deadline, the special auditors of both Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have written to the government, seeking more time to submit their report. When contacted by TOI, at least two auditors confirmed having asked for more time. Auditors Nayak and Kishnadwala, who are doing the special audit for telecom major Bharti Airtel, have written to the DoT on January 14, seeking a further extension.

In their letter, the auditors have said: “The company is still in the process of providing us the information and has assured us that the information would be provided by the end of January 2010.”  Bharti’s auditors have added: “We may need to call for certain additional information, which we will ask the company to provide expeditiously. We will submit our report within 4-6 weeks from the receipt of all information as requisitioned. ”

Auditors Chhajed & Doshi, appointed for Idea Cellular, have also requested for more time. In their letter, dated January 13, the auditors have said: “The tentative date of end January 2010 does not seem to be achievable since the company officials are occupied in the current month with the quarterly closing activities.’ ‘

Last April, DoT had ordered a special audit on five telecom companies — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications (RCom), to check alleged misreporting of revenue to evade taxes and licence fee.

According to a source close to the development, in the case of Tata Teleservices, the auditor was appointed much later than the others, and “so the February 7 deadline does not apply”. RCom, which was the first firm to have its books audited, has asked DoT to take action against its special auditor, “for alleged breach of confidentiality and misconduct”.  In a strongly worded communiqué, RCom has held that the conclusions “arrived at are incorrect and biased and should be rejected.”

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