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Vice chairman of Etisalat DB arrested over 2G scam

Indian government lost around $39bn in 2G licence awards fraud

Vice chairman of Etisalat DB arrested over 2G scam
Shahid Balwa, vice chairman of Etisalat DB has been arrested in connection with a 2G license scam perpetrated in 2008 in India.

Shahid Balwa, vice chairman of Etisalat DB, the telecoms joint venture between Abu Dhabi's Etisalat and DB Group, and the managing director of DB Realty, has been arrested by India's Central Bureau of Investigation.

A CBI spokeswoman Vinita Thakur said Balwas' arrest was in connection with the investigation into alleged corruption related to 2G spectrum allocation, in which the government is said to have lost up to $39bn.

Balwa's detention comes as the government moved closer to agreeing to a parliamentary investigation into the 2G corruption scandal over the awarding of licences in 2008.

The telecoms scandal, which is said to be India's largest to date, last year resulted in the resignation of the telecoms minister and more recently led to a parliamentary gridlock as the opposition called for an investigation.

The government held a third round of talks this week, members of the ruling party said the government was likely to agree to a joint investigation with opposition members and broad powers.

Indian police recently also accused Swan and Unitech, both Indian companies, of buying mobile licences at unfairly cheap prices.

Swan, since renamed Etisalat DB is about 45% owned by Etisalat, the remainder is owned by DB Group, which controls DB Realty.

Unitech, whose Unitech Wireless joint venture is majority held by Norway's Telenor has denied that it had received any favours and said it had complied with rules.

Telenor said it had no reason to believe the licenses were issued improperly.

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