India tycoon's wife tells court she's a housewife, not a businesswoman

NEW DELHI - Tina Ambani, a former Bollywood star wed to one of one of India's top tycoons, has told a court hearing a massive corruption case she had no knowledge of the companies allegedly involved as she is a "housewife".

Her testimony came after prosecutors asked the judge to declare her husband Anil Ambani, chairman of industrial group Reliance ADAG, a hostile witness in the case - one of the biggest corruption scandals in India's history - after he repeatedly told the court he had no recollection of many of the events.

Tina Ambani was summoned as a witness because her name appears on documents relating to the case involving alleged rigging of the Indian government's 2008 licensing of mobile spectrum.

The former actress was shown in court on Friday documents she signed and told of meetings she chaired.

But, like her husband the previous day, she told the court she could not remember many of the events.

"I chaired the meeting if it is so minuted... but I do not recall it," the 1980s film star told the trial court, according to The Business Standard newspaper and other Indian media.

"I have no role in the running of Reliance ADA group as I am a housewife," she said, adding she was briefed by company officials about what to do before chairing any meetings.

After her court appearance, lawyers thronged the actress for her autograph.

Three telecom firms - Reliance Telecom, Unitech Wireless and Swan - have been charged with corruption in the scandal, as well as more than a dozen individuals, including three who worked in Anil Ambani's company.

All have pleaded not guilty.

Swan Telecom is alleged by the prosecution to have been a shell company of Reliance ADAG and ineligible to receive mobile spectrum.

Prosecutors allege that the then-telecom minister A. Raja, also on trial, sold licences at giveaway prices to favoured companies which paid bribes to secure sought-after second-generation (2G) bandwidth.

The auditor calculated losses to the state as high as $40 billion, but the government disputes the figure.

The so-called "2G scam" has been hugely damaging for the ruling Congress party-led coalition, which has been ensnared in a string of corruption scandals since its re-election in 2009.

Anil Ambani lost a legal bid to postpone his and his wife's appearances as prosecution witnesses in the case.

Asked about meetings and links between his company, Reliance Telecom, and others accused of wrongdoing, Anil Ambani testified frequently Thursday he either did "not recall" or was "not aware" of events.

His testimony drew a warning from the judge, who said: "You are forgetting too much... it can go against you - that you don't even recall the names of your companies," according to Business Standard.

Indian prosecutors asked the court to declare Anil Ambani a "hostile" witness.

The federal Central Bureau of Investigation also remarked in court Friday on Tina Ambani's "adverseness" stemming from her inability to remember events.