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Indian court acquits former minister, others in high-profile 2G spectrum scam

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Indian court acquits former minister, others in high-profile 2G spectrum scam

A special court in India acquitted all 19 accused, including former Union Telecom Minister A Raja, in a high-profile corruption case involving alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum that shook up the Indian political landscape.

Others acquitted in the case include then Member of Parliament Kanimozhi, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Communications Ltd.'s parent company Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. Essar Group Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia were also acquitted in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam investigation.

The prosecution can challenge the verdict in a higher court, according to the reports.

The scam came to light in 2008 when India's auditing agency Comptroller and Auditor General in a report held Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of 1.764 trillion Indian rupees by allocating 2G spectrum licenses at throwaway prices. However, a formal chargesheet by national investigative agency CBI pegged the losses at 309.85 billion rupees.

Shares of companies affected by the case rose sharply after the verdict, with Reliance Communications gaining nearly 13%, DB Realty jumping nearly 20% and SUN TV Networks Ltd. rising as much as 6.8%.

The latest ruling does not override the Supreme Court judgment that the licenses for 2G spectrum were issued illegally and in an "unconstitutional and arbitrary" manner. India's apex court canceled 122 licenses and asked for a re-auction in February 2012.

The court also imposed a fine of 50 million rupees each on Unitech Wireless Ltd, Swan Telecom and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd and 5 million rupees each on Loop Telecom, S Tel, Allianz Infratech and Sistema Shyam Tele Services Ltd., according to The Times of India.

As of Dec. 20, US$1 was equivalent to 63.99 Indian rupees.