The trial against the promoters of Essar group and Loop Telecom, accused in a case arising out of probe in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, today commenced in a Delhi court.
Special Judge OP Saini recorded the statements of two CBI witnesses in the case in which Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan and Essar group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf have been named as an accused.
Besides these five, three telecom firms -- Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Teleholdings Ltd -- have also been arrayed as an accused in the case.
The court on May 25 had paved the way for their trial after framing against them the charges of conspiracy to cheat the government.
The court had charged all the accused for the offences under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 420 (cheating) of IPC, while substantial charge of cheating was made out against Saraf.
The court, while framing charges against the accused, had granted bail to Ruias, Khaitans and Saraf on a personal bond of Rs five lakh each and two sureties of like amount.
During recording of statement, prosecution witness Sumeet Rakesh Khanna, a bank official, was shown some documents pertaining to the bank account of Essar Teleholdings Ltd in ABN Amro Bank, where he was earlier working.
He told the court that ABN Amro Bank was later acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Khanna, who is presently working with Firstrand Bank in Mumbai, identified account opening form of Essar Teleholdings Ltd at Chennai branch of ABN Amro Bank and said that it was signed by the company's authorised signatory.
Khanna also identified three cheques issued by Essar Teleholdings Ltd on March 16, 2005.
"The first cheque is dated March 16, 2005 issued in favour of Vectra Holdings (P) Ltd for an amount of Rs five crore. Second cheque is dated March 16, 2005 issued in favour of Epsilone Advisors (P) Ltd for an amount of Rs five crore.
"Third cheque is dated March 16, 2005 issued in favour of Tayana Consult (P) Ltd for an amount of Rs 20 crore," he said.
Khanna also identified a June 29, 2004 letter regarding a resolution which was passed by the company and was sent to the bank for Saraf's appointment as an authorised signatory.
During his cross examination by senior advocate S V Raju, who appeared for Ruias and Essar Teleholdings Ltd, Khanna said when he was with ABN Amro Bank, he was not concerned with the firm's bank account.
"I do not have any personal knowledge of these documents or contents thereof. In Royal Bank of Scotland, I was working in Lower Parel branch, Mumbai, in 2011, when these documents were handed over by me to the IO," he said.
Besides Khanna, the court also recorded the statement of prosecution witness Rakesh Kumar, MTNL's section supervisor.
The CBI had filed the charge sheet against them on December 12 last year following its probe into 2G spectrum allocation scam during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja.
Essar had denied any involvement in the 2G spectrum scam.
The agency had charged them with cheating the Department of Telecom (DoT) by using Loop Telecom as a "front" to secure 2G licenses in 2008.
It had alleged that Essar, which already had stake as an existing telecom operator, had created a front company Loop Telecom to get additional spectrum which was in contravention of the Telecom policy.
CBI, however, had not found enough evidence to prosecute them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.