Unitech Tumbles as Prosecutor Removed From 2G CaseAnto Antony
Unitech Ltd., charged with corruption over the allocation of Indian phone licenses in 2008, plunged the most in more than two years amid reports its chief executive discussed strategy with the prosecutor in the case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation said in a statement yesterday that a public prosecutor was removed from the trial’s prosecution team after the lawyer shared his strategy for the case. The nation’s chief auditor said in a report that the sale of the permits was “arbitrary and lacked transparency,” and may have caused the public exchequer a loss of $31 billion in potential revenue.
Unitech, an Indian real estate developer, tumbled as much as 25 percent, the most since Nov. 26, 2010, to 26.3 rupees in Mumbai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The shares traded at 28.30 rupees as of 11:51 a.m. local time. The BSE India Realty Index, a gauge representing the performance of 11 local developers, fell 4.9 percent and was headed for the biggest loss in almost a year.
CNN-IBN, a television channel, last night played an audio tape of an alleged conversation between the prosecutor and an individual purportedly Sanjay Chandra, managing director of Unitech, revealing details of how a prosecution witness would depose in the hearing.
Chandra, who has denied any wrongdoing in the case and is out on bail, didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone. Tanuja Kehar, a spokeswoman for the company, didn’t answer two calls to her cell phone.
The Press Trust of India reported separately that the alleged conversation happened in September, eight months after the Supreme Court canceled 122 licenses including spectrum held by the venture Unitech Wireless, saying several bidders at the 2008 sale had “money power” and the “ability to manipulate the system.”
A New Delhi special court in 2011 had charged a former telecommunications minister, a lawmaker, five executives of phone carriers and three companies - Unitech Wireless, Swan Telecom Pvt. and Reliance Telecom Ltd., a unit of billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications Ltd.
DB Realty, whose officials were among those charged, slumped as much as 20 percent and traded at 98.80 rupees, while Reliance Communications dropped 4.1 percent to 72 rupees.