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Nov 07, 2012 at 09:04pm IST

Prima facie nexus in Aircel-Maxis deal involving Maran, says SC

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation submitted its status report in the Aircel-Maxis deal in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The deal involves former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and a Malaysian business tycoon. The CBI also told the court that its domestic investigation into the deal is complete but the overseas probe was being delayed due to the influence of the firm's owner in Malaysia who is "powerful politically".

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and KS Radhakrishnan, which perused the two reports filed in a sealed cover by the CBI, said, "The allegations levelled and investigations prima facie indicates a nexus". Submitting the reports, the CBI told the court, "We have completed the domestic probe and have to complete the investigation about the deal in Malaysia and Mauritius. Letters Rogatory have been sent to those countries."

"The gentleman in Malaysia who is involved in it is economically powerful and he is also powerful politically," the agency's counsel KK Venugopal submitted without taking any names. The submission was made by Venugopal, who was reading the relevant portions of CBI's fresh progress report on its investigation into the 2G spectrum scam.

Maran has been accused of "forcing" Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell the stake in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006 owned by Kuala Lumpur-based business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan. The agency submitted that overseas probe was important to track the money trail as the funds for the deal had come through Mauritius.

"We have to go into the source of fund. Information is that the money came through Mauritius," the CBI counsel said adding that "we want to show the link on the source of money to show the quid-pro-quo involved in the deal." When the bench wanted to know "why there was a delay in probe in Malaysia and Mauritius," the CBI said those countries are repeatedly seeking clarification on one or the other issues.

The bench also said if there was any effort by powerful or influential or CBI was working under any influence then "this must be stopped". The agency said the Attorney General of Mauritius was fully cooperating and hoped it will get the support of the Indian High Commission. At this, the bench said, "We have found from your report that the Attorney General of Mauritius has fully cooperated and the High Commission must also support."

"Union of India is also a party and if you have any problem at the part of the High Commission then we would pass an order for this," the bench said. The CBI said some of the clarification and response on the evidence and whether prima facie case is made out in the deal as sought by the foreign countries, are unwarranted.

After hearing the CBI, the bench said it wanted to see the investigation completed as early as possible so that it can start day-to-day hearing from January next year. The agency in July 2011 had placed a status report in the

court stating that during 2004-07 when Maran was telecom minister, Sivasankaran was coerced to sell the stake in Aircel to Maxis Group.

The report, part of which was read, had said that the Malaysian firm was favoured by Maran and was granted licence within six months after taking over Aircel in December 2006. Maran was the Telecom Minister between February 2004 and May, 2007. "The gentleman (promoter of Aircel) had been knocking at various doors but was left with no choice but to sell his shares to a Malaysian form," the CBI had said.

The NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had earlier placed documents before the apex court on the alleged role of Maran in favouring Maxis group which had bought Aircel, owned by Siva Group, when he was Telecom Minister from 2004 to 2007. The CPIL had alleged that Maran during his tenure as Telecom Minister granted 14 licences to Aircel which invested Rs 599.01 crore in his family-owned business.

Later, he allegedly delayed the award of UAS licenses to Aircel which had been applying with the DoT since 2004 by raising irrelevant issues from time to time ignoring the request of its owner C Sivasankaran to resolve them, following

which he sold the company to Maxis group. Sivasankaran had appeared before the CBI and had recorded his statement.

The NGO claimed that after Aircel was taken over by the Maxis, Maran s family-owned business, Sun TV, received substantial investment from Maxis Group (Aircel) by taking 20 per cent equity in Sun Direct. "Feeling harassed, Sivasankaran was forced into selling Aircel. In March 2006, Maxis bought 74 per cent stake in Aircel. The company got the FIPB approval in May 2006. As on March 3, 2006, a total of 14 applications from Aircel were pending in the DoT for award of licenses," the NGO had said.

(With additional information from PTI)

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