Posts tagged probe
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to a parliamentary probe into the sale of mobile-phone licenses, surrendering to three months of opposition demands that had derailed legislation and eroded investor confidence.
“We can ill afford the situation that our parliament is not allowed to function during the crucial budget session,” Singh, 78, said in the lower house of parliament six days before Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will deliver his policy statement for the next financial year. “It is in these special circumstances that our government agrees to setting up a joint parliamentary committee,” Singh told lawmakers.
The government’s legislative agenda has been paralyzed since November by protests over alleged revenue losses during a 2008 sale of 2G telecoms permits, with the ruling Congress party’s chief rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, leading calls for an investigation by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers. The final parliament session of 2010 was the least productive in 25 years. Sushma Swaraj, a BJP leader, said today parliament should start running normally.
India’s benchmark stock index, the Sensex, has lost 10 percent this year, making it the world’s worst performing benchmark index after Egypt and Tunisia, as inflation, the most aggressive monetary policy in Asia, and concerns over prolonged political gridlock and corruption led investors to sell Indian stocks. The index was the best performer among the world’s 10 biggest markets last year, buoyed by strong growth and corporate earnings.
Investors say that even after agreeing to the probe by lawmakers the governing alliance will struggle to regain authority to introduce the changes in the $1.3 trillion economy sought by business leaders when Singh won re-election in 2009. As he begins the third year of a potential five-year term, corruption and sliding support may have further diminished the already reticent Singh’s political stature, they said.
“There is such upside if the politicians could pull their finger out,” said Hugh Young, Singapore-based head of equities at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, which manages $297 billion of assets. “But one has to question Manmohan Singh’s real ability to drive anything through.”
When Singh’s Congress secured its biggest election victory in 20 years in 2009, investors hoped that it would usher in policies to further open India’s economy. The rupee and stocks rose to record gains the month after the ballot as investors anticipated measures to encourage foreign investment.
Spending on Poor
Instead, Congress headed by party chief Sonia Gandhi has prioritized raising spending on a $9 billion program to guarantee 100 days of work for 41 million rural families and provide subsidized food grains for an additional 100 million poor among its 1.2 billion people.
“The government has not delivered to the extent that it should have in the second term because of a lack of leadership and cohesiveness,” said Jay Shankar, chief economist at Religare Capital Markets Ltd. in Mumbai. “As we move closer to the next election the government is likely to introduce more populist measures.”
Bills to change rules governing the acquisition of land for industry as up to $100 billion in investments remains stalled, including proposed projects of South Korea’s Posco and ArcelorMittal, and force miners to share profits with local communities were delayed late last year.
While the government issued a discussion paper in July saying that allowing overseas multi-brand companies including the world’s largest retailer, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal- Mart Stores Inc., and Carrefour SA, ranked number two globally, to sell goods to Indian consumers would lower prices and benefit farmers, Singh has failed to act on a policy that may risk the livelihoods of millions of small shopkeepers.
The prime minister last week in a rare meeting with senior journalists vowed to punish those found guilty of fraud, acknowledging that a political atmosphere dominated by claims of wrongdoing by his ministers had hurt the image of India overseas. In a bid to refocus his government and rejecting media claims that he had become a “lame-duck” leader, Singh said Mukherjee’s Feb. 28 budget will signal a return to the administration’s “reform agenda.”
“We are a functioning democracy and must strive to resolve our differences in a spirit of accommodation and collaboration, not confrontation,” Singh said today. “This, I hope, will renew our confidence in India’s forward march.”
An AC Nielsen opinion poll for the India Today magazine published last month forecast that Singh’s coalition may win 42 seats fewer than the 259 it secured in May 2009 if an election was called.
“It’s good that wisdom has dawned on the government,” Gurudas Dasgupta, a lawmaker of the Communist Party of India, said in parliament. “It’s better to be late than never.”
India’s chief auditor said in November the 2G licenses were sold for an “unbelievably low” $2.7 billion when they may have been worth at least 10 times more. Former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja, ministry bureaucrats and company executives have been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Raja, who has denied any wrongdoing, is now in jail under judicial custody.
India’s economy will probably expand 8.6 percent in the year ending March 31 from a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2008, the Central Statistical Office said on Feb. 7.
Foreign direct investment into India slumped last year, totaling only a quarter of its Asian rival China, the world’s fastest major growing economy, according to United Nations data. Investment in India fell by 32 percent to $23.7 billion in 2010, while in China it climbed 6 percent to $101 billion.
To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Macaskill in New Delhi at firstname.lastname@example.org; Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org
A full house on opening day of last year’s Spring Grand Sumo Tournament in Osaka on March 14, 2010 is pictured in this file photo. (Mainichi )
Only half of the 14 sumo wrestlers and elders asked to submit their mobile phones to a Japan Sumo Association (JSA) committee handling a bout-rigging probe have presented working phones, it has been learned.
Three submitted broken phones and one said his phone was lost, the committee announced on Feb. 18. Three of the 14 have not responded to the request to submit their phones.
The committee, chaired by a professor from Waseda University, had called on the 14 to voluntarily submit their cell phones as it continues to probe suspicions of bout-fixing.
The committee also questioned six JSA members who reported in a questionnaire that they had seen or heard about bout-fixing. However, they say this questioning did not produce any new details.
The possibility of bout-fixing was uncovered during a probe into e-mail records on sumo wrestlers’ and elders’ cell phones that were confiscated by police during an investigation into last year’s baseball betting scandal.
Struggling to make progress with its investigation, the JSA committee asked police for any additional evidence they could provide, but police reportedly responded, “All e-mails that merit suspicion have already been submitted.”
Detectives are appealing for help to find a mobile phone belonging to murdered mother-to-be Nikitta Grender.
The heavily pregnant 19-year-old was attacked at her flat in Broadmead Park, Liswerry, Newport, South Wales, on February 5.
She was stabbed twice and her flat set on fire by her killer in a desperate bid to destroy evidence.
Carl Whant, 26, was arrested on suspicion of the murder on Wednesday and continues to be questioned by police.
The former soldier, who worked as a bouncer in Newport, is the second cousin of Miss Grender’s boyfriend and father of her baby, Ryan Mayes, 18.
Now Gwent Police are appealing for help in locating Miss Grender’s missing Samsung Tocco SF80 mobile phone.
Police also revealed that Thursday’s appeal to trace four people captured on CCTV in the Broadmead Park area has been successful. Three of the four potentially vital witnesses have come forward and officers received 36 calls connected with the appeal.
One remaining potential witness, seen walking on Fosse Road, Pontfaen, at 5.59am, has yet to come forward. “That person could well hold vital information. Police would like him to get in touch as he may have seen something relevant to the investigation,” a police spokesman said.
Detective Superintendent Geoff Ronayne, who is heading the investigation, said: “Although intensive searches have been carried out over the last few days, we have yet to find Nikitta’s mobile phone, a Samsung Tocco SF80. We had a very good response from the appeals we made (on Thursday) and three out of four people captured have already come forward. We are grateful to the local community for their response to the media appeals.”
On Thursday night police were granted an extra 36 hours to question the man they are holding.
Washington – The co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus have sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, seeking detailed information on the company’s recent announcement that it would share users’ addresses and mobile phone numbers with developers. Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) pose 11 questions to Zuckerberg in their letter, asking how Facebook developed and vetted the feature; what led the company to suspend roll out after it had been announced; how the company is adjusting the feature prior to re-enabling it; how consumers will be able to opt-out; and whether consideration was given to risks in children and teenagers disclosing their addresses and mobile phone numbers.
The letter also pointedly asks, “Why is Facebook, after previously acknowledging in a letter to Reps. Markey and Barton that sharing a Facebook User ID could raise user concerns, subsequently considering sharing access to even more sensitive personal information such as home addresses and phone numbers to third parties?”
“Facebook needs to protect the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn’t become Phonebook,” Rep. Markey said in a statement.
“The computer — especially with sites like Facebook — is now a virtual front door to your house allowing people access to your personal information. You deserve to look through the peep hole and decide who you are letting in,” Rep. Barton added.
Zuckerberg and Facebook were given until Feb. 23 to respond to the lawmakers’ queries.
http://tinyurl.com/4mxhgqj (Rep. Markey statement)
Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, Feb 4 (PTI) Pakistani investigators probing the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto have obtained two BlackBerry mobile phones she was using at the time of her death, marking an important breakthrough in the probe.
The phones were found at Bilawal House, the Bhutto family”s residence in Karachi, by its staff.
They were handed over to a special team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) but neither the investigators nor a spokesman for Bilawal House could say why it took three years for the phones to be found and handed over to authorities.
An official at Bilawal House told the media the phones were “voluntarily” handed over to the FIA and had been sent for forensic analysis.
Media reports quoted sources in the FIA as saying that the phone were recovered from a servant at Bilawal House.
However, an unnamed close aide of Bhutto, who was with her shortly before she was killed by a suicide attacker in Rawalpindi in December 2007, told the Dawn newspaper that she had only one BlackBerry at the time of her assassination.
“As far as I know, she had only one BlackBerry and used it only for text messaging and not for voice calls,” the aide was quoted as saying.
He said Bhutto sent some messages from her vehicle while travelling form Islamabad to Rawalpindi, where she addressed her last public meeting.
FIA sources contended that the phones were being used by Abdul Razzaq, a servant of President Asif Ali Zardari in Bilawal House.
The FIA believes it will be able to glean some clues from the information contained in the BlackBerry sets. The phones will help investigators to ascertain who had last called Bhutto and the last person she had called.
The phones may also help investigators ascertain if Bhutto received a call after leaving the venue of her public meeting and if the caller had asked her to emerge through her vehicle”s sunroof and wave to supporters.
“The findings of the forensic examination (of the phones) will be shared with the Interior Ministry,” FIA chief Waseem Ahmed told Dawn.
Officials of Bilawal House were unable to explain why they had not handed over the phones to authorities when investigators had declared they were missing.
Comments | Share | Print | Benazir assassination probe: Pak ATC extends remand of detained police duo 2011-01-22 14:10:00
In the latest development in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, a special Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) of Pakistan has extended the physical remand of two former police officials, Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, for ten days.
Earlier, FIA prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar had acquired an eight-day physical remand of Saud- a former Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO) and Shahzad- a former Superintendent of Police (SP) at Rawal Town, for the recovery of the mobile phone sets the two officers used on the day of Benazir’s murder.
On Saturday (today), the Federal Investigation Agency produced the accused before the court and pleaded for a ten-day extension in their physical remand, SAMAA TV reports.
Former Rawalpindi police chief Aziz told the court that he had provided his mobile phone to the investigation team, which was in use on December 27, 2007, the day former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.
Aziz’s counsel, Wahid Anjum, argued that there was no such technology anywhere in the world that could retrieve data from a mobile phone.
However, FIA prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar told the court that the SIMs handed over to the agency were not used by Aziz or Shahzad that day.
The court subsequently extended the physical remand of both the cops, and handed them over to the FIA. (ANI)
All About: Rawalpindi
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CHENNAI: The cyber crime cell of the Chennai police has registered a case and launched investigations following a complaint by BCCI president-elect N Srinivasan that his mobile phone was hacked into and SMSes were sent to some IPL team owners asking them to fall in line.
According to Srinivasan’s complaint, a few IPL team owners had recently received an SMS from his number warning they too would face action because of their links with former IPL chief Lalit Modi. “Srinivasan said in his complaint that he was shocked when he heard about the SMS. He said he requested the team owners to send the SMS back to him and denied sending any such message,” a cop said.
Another police officer confirmed that Bangalore Royal Challengers, Mumbai Indians and another team owners received it. “We are not sure if the message was sent only to these three. But as these three team owners contacted Srinivasan after receiving the SMS, he came to know about the hacking,” the officer said. “We have approached a service provider in Mumbai to identify the origin of the SMS. We hope to receive the details in a day or two. We are also in discussion with the technical team to narrow down on the hacker,” police said.