Nira Radia is an Indian PR consultant and lobbyist.Her phone calls which were tapped and recorded, allegedly, by the Indian Income Tax Department in 2008-09  showed her lobbying for appointment of Cabinet Ministers ex DMK, including A Raja, through journalistBarkha Dutt and DMK chief Karunanidhi's daughterKanimozhi.
A British citizen, Radia moved from England to Surajkund, India, with her three sons after a divorce from Kutchi businessman, Janak Radia. In 2003, Dheeraj Singh, a business partner, was arrested with an accomplice for allegedly kidnapping her 18-year-old son. By 2008, Nira Radia was running a successful corporate communications enterprise in the form of Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, and operating through subsidiaries such as Neucom, Noesis Strategic Consulting Services and Vitcom Consulting. She is allegedly very close to Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, among others in the corporate world.
She was subsequently involved in the 2G spectrum allotment in 2008 by lobbying for A Raja. The allotment resulted in the alleged swindling of $39bn as per BBC, in what is supposedly the biggest financial and economic crime in India till date.
Life in a snapshot
- Moved to London from Kenya in the 1970s. Schooled at Haberdashers’ Aske’s. Bachelor’s at University of Warwick.
- Has three siblings. Father in aviation. Three sons with former husband, UK businessman Janak Radia.
- India entry in 1995. Sahara liaison officer. India rep of Singapore Airlines, KLM, UK Air.
- Floats Crown Air as MD in 2000, with sister Karuna Menon as partner. Secures FIPB clearance to invest over Rs 100 crore, but plan falls through.
- Sets up Vaishnavi Communications in 2001, followed by Noesis, Victom and Neucom Consulting. Bags all 90 Tata group accounts. Reliance joins list in 2008.
- Bid to launch Magic Air collapses in 2005 as rules stipulate Indian ownership. PIO Radia holds a British passport.
- Spends months at Singur in ’08 during Tata Nano row. Lands in 2G scam in 2010.
Phone tapping and the 2G Spectrum Controversy
After getting authorization from the Home Ministry, the Indian Income Tax department tapped Radia’s phone lines for 300 days in 2008-2009, as part of their investigations into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices and tax evasion.
These phone recordings led to the unveiling of the 2G spectrum controversy of a record $40 billion involving former Telecommunications and IT Minister A. Raja and other politicians, corporates and industrialists, government officials, middlemen and media persons, which subsequently led to his resignation from his post. In the tapped conversations between Nira Radia and prominent figures (referred to as the Radia Tapes), the following prominent figures are heard in conversation with Radia:
- A. Raja, Former telecom minister
- Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha MP
- N.K Singh, Rajya Sabha MP
- Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons
- (Mention of) Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries
- (Mention of) Anil Ambani, Reliance Communications
- Manoj Modi, Reliance Industries
- Barkha Dutt, Group editor, English news, NDTV
- Vir Sanghvi, HT advisory editorial director
- M.K. Venu, Senior business journalist
- Tarun Das, Former CII honcho
- Prabhu Chawla, editor of India Today magazine
- Suhel Seth, management guru and columnist
- Rajdeep Sardesai, CNN-IBN.
The matter allegedly first appeared in the media in May 2010 when a Hindi portal Bhadas4media(dot)com carried stories about these tapes and the documents sent by a CBI official to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that had directly named Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi saying-“On Mrs Radia’s and Kanimozhi’s behalf Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi were negotiating for ministerial berth”. Again it said- “There is a big conversation between Mr Ratan Tata and Mrs Radia which establishes that Mr Tata wanted to prevent Dayanidhi Maran from being Telecom Minister at any cost.” :
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) tells the Supreme Court of India in November 2010 that the role of Nira Radia in the 2G spectrum controversy will be thoroughly investigated as the irregularities were of "enormous magnitude" having international ramifications. The CBI also tells the Supreme Court, in a seven page affidavit, in November 2010 that it would complete the 2G spectrum investigation by March 2011, and that it is examining transcripts relating to Nira Radia's 5,851 phone calls and 82,665 pages of documents.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), India, summoned and then questioned Nira Radia for more than eight hours on the 24th of November 2010, in what is Radia's first interrogation by an investigating agency. She had excused herself from earlier summons by the ED on health grounds.