More than five years after the infamous Radia tapes surfaced, a report by Meetu Jain in Outlook magazine on Friday reported the existence of a new set of ‘Essar’ tapes which purportedly contain tapped telephone conversations of influential businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats over a period of 11 years.
Outlook further reported that most of the taped conversations in the audios concerned RIL and its reach within the government, judiciary and parliamentary committees and its influence in the appointment of ministers during the rule of both the NDA and the UPA.
Among those whose telephone conversations were tapped by former Essar’s head of security and vigilance, Albasit Khan, now a whistleblower included the Ambani brothers, current Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, former PMO official N.K. Singh and former NSA Brajesh Mishra.
The other prominent personalities whose telephone conversations were recorded are Sahara’s Subroto Roy, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, current home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and SP leader Amar Singh.
According to the magazine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was informed of the tapes recorded by the Essar in May by Supreme Court lawyer Suren Uppal representing Khan.
Among the more sensational revelations, the audio cassettes contain a December 2002 conversation between Managing Director of RIL, Mukesh Ambani and an RIL director, Satish Seth where they are allegedly discussing how the Supreme Court was ‘managed’ through then IT and Communications Minister Pramod Mahajan with the meeting of telecom official Ajay Singh and the then Chief Justice of India.
Another leak reportedly contains conversations between Mukesh Ambani and Satish Seth over suggestions to break the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) by paying BPL Mobile founder and then member of advisory committee in the IT & Communications Ministry, Rajeev Chandrasekhar to the tune of Rs 100-RS 200 crore.
Incidentally, the conversations were tapped using servers of BPL mobiles (Mumbai circle) along with then Hutch (Mumbai and Delhi circles) by Cell-to-Cell interception.
Other sensational ‘leaks’ include a conversation between Amar Singh and then Samata Party MP Kunwar Akhilesh Singh in November 2002 revealed how Amar Singh, who was then part of the Joint Parliamentary Committee lobbied in favour of Reliance Petroleum in the Ketan Parikh Scam and Global Trust Bank controversy.