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India's ex-telecom minister gets bail in scandal case

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Tue May 15, 2012
High-profile suspects are accused of underselling cell phone licenses at the height of India's lucrative telecom boom.
High-profile suspects are accused of underselling cell phone licenses at the height of India's lucrative telecom boom.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ex-telecom minister Andhimuthu Raja was jailed in 2011
  • Police charged 17 defendants, including three firms, in the case
  • Suspects accused of underselling telecom radiowaves
  • Raja is the last defendant out on bail

New Delhi (CNN) -- A New Delhi court Tuesday granted bail to India's former telecom minister, who was at the center of one of the country's biggest corruption scandals.

Last year, police arrested the former minister, Andhimuthu Raja, and more than a dozen other defendants as part of high-profile investigations into the suspected below-price sale of telecom licenses.

There are 17 defendants, including Raja and three companies, in the case.

The 13 other individual suspects are already out on bail.

Raja's lawyer Ramesh Gupta told CNN that the court ordered his client be released on bail Tuesday .

The alleged scam has rocked the country's coalition government and investor confidence in Asia's third-largest economy.

Suspects are accused of participating in a scheme involving the underselling of cell phone licenses at the height of India's lucrative telecom boom.

Police have also questioned several high-profile executives. The firm of business tycoon Anil Ambani is among three companies named in the charge sheet spelling out the accusations.

Politicians, bureaucrats and corporate officials linked to the probe have denied any wrongdoing.

According to a government audit, the treasury lost as much as $31 billion from the 2008 sale of the wireless spectrum. That audit report came on the heels of allegations of massive fraud in sports and real estate.

In February last year, prime minister Manmohan Singh accepted opposition demands for a wider, cross-party investigation into the massive scandal.

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