NEW DELHI: Former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran was interrogated for the second consecutive day on Thursday for seven long hours at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters in the national capital in the “illegal telephone exchange” scam where over 780 telecom connections were being used at his Boat Club Road residence in Chennai to benefit Sun TV network owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran.
Still “not satisfied and convinced” with the replies the former telecom minister during questioning, CBI sleuths have called him again on Friday for interrogation.
“He has been again called tomorrow (Friday) to join the probe,” a senior CBI officer told Express hinting that the interrogation of Dayanidhi will continue as he has been trying to “divert and defend himself from the scam”.
Though, in the last two days Dayanidhi has been interrogated for 15-hours in two stretches, CBI sleuths said that he is still “hiding a lot of things from them”.
Dayanidhi reached the CBI headquarters around 10.45 am on Thursday and was grilled by the Special Task Force from 11 am to 6 pm. During interrogation, the CBI sleuths asked Dayanidhi to provide evidences to prove his innocence. “He failed to do so today. So we had to call him tomorrow also,” said a source.
It was Express that first blew the lid off the Rs 440-crore telephone exchange scam, exposing the illegal high-speed ISDN phone lines that were routed from Dayanidhi’s residence to Kalanithi’s Sun TV to facilitate fast data transfer of news programmes, causing huge losses to government-owned BSNL.
Noted investigative journalist and columnist S Gurumurthy first broke the scam in June 2011, exposing the secret exchange with 323 lines set up at Maran’s residence in 2006-07 in the name of chief general manager of BSNL to benefit Sun TV.
As per the instructions of the CBI sleuths, Dayanidhi provided the interrogators a bunch of Right to Information (RTI) reply collected form BSNL and MTNL.
“I was given an opportunity to give some evidence which I have collected through RTI from BSNL and MTNL which clearly says that there was one Integrated Services Digital Network and not 300 connections as claimed earlier. Similarly, I have given them much more information which are all received through RTI,” said Dayanidhi after coming out from the CBI headquarters after interrogation.
Dayanidhi also said that he was cooperating with the CBI officials and is ready to answer their questions any time. “I have assured them that in future also I will cooperate and come any time to answer their questions,” the former minister said.
The CBI probing the scam said that the total loss to the exchequer is Rs 1.80 crore as against its earlier claim that the total loss incurred to exchequer was Rs 440 crore.
On a question over CBI’s different evaluation of loss, a senior CBI sleuth said, “So for we have got documents relating to Rs 1.80 crore.”