India’s former telecommunications minister, along with two other officials were arrested on Wednesday in an investigation into one of India’s biggest corruption scandals that cost the government billions of dollars.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged Andimuthu Raja, his secretary and a former ministry official for abusing their official positions to benefit some telecom companies. The scandal involves the 2008 sale of 2G cellular operating licenses of under a first-come, first-served basis, but was unrightfully given to ineligible participants that netted the government only 124 billion rupees ($2.7 billion). The Comptroller and Auditor General reports that losses from the cut-price sales could have cost the national treasury up to $40 billion.
Raja, who still denies the allegation, was forced to resign from the government in November as the scandal tainted the image of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The opposition stalled the functioning of both houses of Parliament, calling for a joint probe into the auction; however, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has refused. The houses are scheduled to meet from Feb. 21 to pass the government’s budget.