x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

India's Supreme Court grants bail in telecoms corruption case

Five executives are among 14 individuals and three companies charges in an alleged rigging of a 2007/08 grant of lucrative telecoms licences.

NEW DELHI // India's Supreme Court has granted bail to five company executives charged in a multibillion dollar telecommunications licensing scandal that has rocked the government and businesses.

Sanjay Chandra, the managing director of Telenor's India partner Unitech; Vinod Goenka, chairman of Etisalat's India partner DB Group; and three executives from billionaire Anil Ambani's group have been held in jail since April, following rejection of their bail pleas in lower courts.

They are among 14 individuals and three companies charged in alleged rigging of a 2007/08 grant of lucrative telecoms licences that a state auditor said cost the government up to US$39 billion (Dh143.13bn) in revenue.

A former telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja, a member of government ally DMK party, and Kanimozhi, the lawmaker daughter of the DMK chief, remain in jail as the trial into the telecoms scandal goes on in New Delhi.

The scandal is the largest of the several that have emerged in the second term of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, weakening the government's political authority and spooking investors.

Attacked by a resurgent opposition, policy-making has drifted into limbo amid the controversies.

A series of tycoons, including billionaire Anil Ambani, were questioned during the case - a rare event where top businessmen are seen as beyond the reach of police.

All of the accused have denied any wrongdoing.