India’s Central Bureau of Investigation is reported to have named operators Swan and Unitech Wireless as the beneficiaries of a 2G spectrum licensing process which is alleged to have led to permits being sold for less than the market value. The companies were named following the arrest of Andimuthu Raja, India’s former telecoms minister, earlier this week, and it is believed to be the first time that specific companies have been identified. It was also reported that Siddharth Behura, India’s former telecoms secretary, has offered to “disclose everything” to the investigating agencies. According to India’s Economic Times, real estate firm Unitech, which was parent to the wireless business at the time of the issue, stated that “it is highly incorrect to allege that any favour was shown to Unitech during the licence process.”

It has been suggested that the Indian businesses received licenses and spectrum at favourable prices, before selling out to international investors, in order to receive a significant windfall. Swan Telecom has now been renamed Etisalat DB, with UAE-based Etisalat being a significant investor, while Unitech Wireless is now trading as Uninor, with Norway’s Telenor as its international backer. Unitech notes that while the licence was issued in February 2008, it received its first investment from Telenor on March 2009, and that the capital invested by Telenor has remained with Uninor rather than being passed to the parent. It has also been alleged previously that existing operator Reliance Communications had held more than 10 percent of Swan Telecom, breeching Indian cross-ownership rules, although this has since been withdrawn.