A decision by India’s Supreme Court Thursday could leave millions of Indians without cellphone service. The court threw out 122 mobile phone licenses granted through one of India’s biggest corruption scandals in history.
The licenses were sold in 2008 at 2001 prices, costing the country’s treasury more than $39 billion in lost revenue, according to one report cited by the Los Angeles Times. The amount, the paper reported, was “more than twice the country’s combined education and health budgets for 2011.”
Andimuthu Raja, the disgraced telecommunications minister, is now in prison on corruption charges, while an investigation threatens to bring down other ministers who may have been in on the scheme. The country, meanwhile, has four months to set in place new rules and run another auction for the licenses.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against three major banks Friday, accusing them of fraud in attempting to save billions in fees while foreclosing on homeowners by using an electronic mortgage registry.
Schneiderman’s suit names Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, as well as the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc.
“The banks created the MERS system as an end-run around the property recording system, to facilitate the rapid securitization and sale of mortgages,” the Associated Press quoted Schneiderman as saying. In doing so, foreclosing banks made it impossible for homeowners and the courts to track property transfers through public records.
The electronic system, the attorney general said, is plagued by inaccuracies. Banks relied on the data to bring foreclosure actions against homeowners, creating the appearance–falsely, it often turned out–that they had the authority to turn homeowners out on the street.
The financial muscle behind LightSquared, the communications company that Senator Chuck Grassley accused of attempting to bribe him last week, has come out swinging against the Iowa Republican.
Harbinger Capital, the hedge fund that has reportedly invested $3 billion into LightSquared, derided charges by Grassley’s office that LightSquared had tried to buy him off. Last week Grassley had accused LightSquared of proposing his office go easy on a review of the company’s technology in exchange for a promise to build a call center in his home state.
LightSquared is planning to launch an LTE network aimed at delivering fast Internet service to more than 250 million customers. But it has run into opposition from the satellite and telecommunications industries, which cite research suggesting the LTE technology produces interference in broadband networks that cover GPS signals and cellphones.
In a 13-page letter, attorneys for Phil Falcone, the head of Harbinger Capital, attacked Grassley for taking his accusation to the press, and he denied any intent to bribe the senator. Falcone’s bet on LightSquared cost his company dearly: The fund reported a 47 percent drop in income for 2011 on Friday.