Under fire: Former minister A Raja
INDIAN federal investigators today questioned a former minister at the heart of one of the biggest corruption cases in the country’s history.
Former telecom minister A Raja quit last month over the 2008 cut-price sale of second-generation (2G) mobile phone licences that India’s government audit watchdog said cost the treasury as much as $40bn (£26bn).
A spokesman for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Raja was being questioned at its headquarters in New Delhi.
Raja, who has denied any any wrongdoing, is accused of changing rules to help certain companies, many of which, according to the auditor, were ineligible to apply for wireless permits.
His lawyer said his client feared he already stood “condemned, charge-sheeted, tried and convicted by the media”.
The questioning came after police raided Raja’s home and offices along with those of current and retired telecom ministry officials and a high-profile corporate lobbyist.
The CBI has said the searches recovered allegedly “incriminating documents”.
Indian media reports say the CBI is probing the possibility of kickbacks being paid by some of the firms bidding for 2G licences.
The scandal paralysed parliament for the entire winter session and has brought opposition calls for Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s resignation.
Dr Singh, 78, declared earlier in the week he had “nothing to hide” as he volunteered to be quizzed by a parliamentary panel over the scandal. But the offer failed to satisfy the opposition which is seeking a cross-party investigation into the licence sale.
Raja was expected to face questioning about alleged irregularities in the timing of the sale and about the role of his relatives in some of the companies which allegedly acted as fronts for certain telecom firms which won spectrum.
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