CRF Blog

India’s telecom scandal

by David De La Torre

In Megahurts, The Economist reports on the ongoing Indian telecom scandal.

AS SCANDALS go, it is a corker. It involves secret recordings of lobbyists talking to tycoons about ministers, fraudulent documents, unrelated firms that share the same e-mail address, clueless foreigners piling into a vast market, bank drafts with dates that make no sense, PR flacks taped schmoozing hacks with honking traffic in the background, front companies named after Russian rivers, an apparently helpless prime minister, people under arrest and something between $8 billion and $20 billion pinched from the public purse.

India’s telecoms scandal has been rumbling since 2008, when 122 mobile licences covering a third of India’s 2G spectrum were awarded to eight companies. (India today has 14 mobile-phone firms in all.) A constant drip of disclosures since then has numbed the public’s outrage. But on February 2nd India’s Supreme Court cancelled all 122 licences. Its 94-page ruling is required reading for anyone interested in doing business in India. [more]