Friday, October 8, 2010

2G scam may spill over into banking sector

The great Indian telecom scam is threatening to spill over into the banking sector. And at stake is the tax payers' money that public sector banks have given as loan to Unitech Wireless. The telecom giant, now called Uninor, is being probed by the CBI, the CVC and the Income Tax in the 2G spectrum scam.

CNN-IBN has accessed to documents that show that public sector banks including the State Bank of India which has lent over Rs 8000 crore to the company. In all, public sector banks have lent nearly Rs 9,830 crore to the company, completely overlooking the risk factors involved.

Uninor could be in danger of losing its telecom license itself after a draft CAG report said Uninor was a real estate company and therefore not authorised to operate in the telecom sector. Uninor is also under the Income tax scanner for alleged tax evasion in the 2G scam.

State Bank of India has refused to comment on record. But officials, who refused to be named, said Unitech Wireless didn't have any inquiry going on when the loans were sanctioned.

The fact is that the CVC inquiry began in 2008, soon after the 2G allocations. Most of the loans were given even as the spectrum scandal was hitting the headlines.

Unitech says, "Unitech Wireless has a fund-based loan of Rs 2,500 crores and a non-fund based facility of another Rs 2,500 crores from a consortium of banks comprising public, private and foreign banks. This is the only bank loan we have taken."

Generous lending by PSU banks to Uninor could assume a serious dimension when the CBI and CVC will explain to the SC what action they have taken so far on the 2G scam.

Any adverse findings with regard to the license allotment procedure could well lead to difficulties in operations and that, in turn, could raise a question mark on the loans sanctioned then.