Anil Ambani denies knowledge about Swan Telecom

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani Thursday deposed before a special court here as a prosecution witness in the 2G spectrum allocation case and said he was not aware of any company named Swan Telecom.

"I'm not aware of any company called Swan Telecom," Ambani replied in the special court of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), presided over by Judge O.P. Saini, when asked by the prosecution if he knew this firm that was given telecom spectrum and licence in 2008.

The main allegations of the probe agency, prompting it to call Ambani as a witness, is that Swan Telecom was a shell company of the Anil Ambani Group, ineligible for telecom spectrum and licence - a matter that has been strongly denied by the defence.

The court concluded recording the statement of Anil Ambani over two sessions and then called his wife Tina Ambani Friday at 2 p.m. In fact, Anil Ambani also told the judge that his wife will depose Friday in the court.

"Tina Ambani will appear tomorrow," he said.

The markets reacted positively to the day's development, with the shares of Reliance Communications ending 5.67 percent higher at Rs.121.15. Among the other group companies, Reliance Power ended 3.68 percent higher, while Reliance Capital gained 6.02 percent.

While giving his statement, Ambani refuted the claim of the probe agency that Swan Telecom was a shell company of his group.

"It is wrong to suggest that Swan Telecom was a shell company of my group. It was wrong to suggest that it was in my knowledge that Swan had applied for UAS licence (telecom licence) for Jammu and Kashmir service area in 2007," Ambani said.

"I cannot recall if Reliance Telecom had made an investment to the extent of 9.9 percent in the equity shares in Swan Telecom," he said, while denying another claim by the CBI during his visit to its headquarters here.

"I visited the CBI office in connection with this case. However, at that time, I did not hand over any note to the CBI officer," Ambani said in his statement.

When queried by the judge, Ambani also said he was making his statement voluntarily and as per his own free will.

The court had Wednesday said summoning Anil Ambani and and his wife as prosecution witnesses "will not cause any prejudice to the accused facing trial in the case".

The court had last month postponed their examination. Subsequently, summons were issued to Anil and Tina Ambani on July 19, for recording their statements Aug 22 and 23, respectively, based on the probe agency's plea.

The 54-year-old Ambani, who looked relaxed and composed, had reached court much ahead of the time. Standing in witness box in a packed room, he declined any knowledge about Swan, but said he had, indeed, met telecom ministers a number of times.

"I met the Arun Shourie, Dayanidhi Maran, late Pramod Mahajan, A. Raja, and Kapil Sibal multiple times in connection with the developments in telecom sector," he told the court.

Ambani also told the court that he has "large number of companies, lakhs of employees and large number of documents come to me for signing and it is not possible to recall various documents signed" by him.

"It is not possible to recall various meetings attended by me, the various documents signed by me.... I have alarge number of professionals working for me and they look after the maintenance of various records..," he added.

Ambani, during the day, identified the documents which mentioned the names and photos of authorised signatories, who, according to CBI, opened bank accounts and from which money of Reliance was transferred to Swan Telecom through a series of transactions.

Ambani, however, told the court that he could not recall the transactions.

On question about the board meetings, he said that he never attended them, bor could he recall their decisions or minutes. It was work of secretarial team to organise meetings or agendas or minutes, he added.

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