Aircel-Maxis deal: Will Chidambaram face the heat?

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Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram
Trouble seems to be brewing for the DMK as according to reports, the Centre has asked the CBI to file a chargesheet against the Maran (Dayanidhi and Kalanithi) brothers in Aircel-Maxis case. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the CBI that there was enough evidence to file a chargesheet against the former telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother in the case.

Maran is alleged to have misused his office to force Aircel owner Sivasankaran to sell his entire stake in the company to a Malaysian businessman T Ananda Krishnan. Maran later entered into a quid-pro arrangement with the company.

What is the Aircel-Maxis case?

Maxis is a Malaysian company owned by business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan while Aircel was first promoted by C Sivasankaran, an NRI tycoon.

In 2006, Maxis took over Aircel by acquiring 74 per cent shares. The rest (26 percent) owned by Indian companies related to the Apollo Hospital group. These shares are managed by Sunita Reddy, one of Apollo group founder Dr C Pratap Reddy's daughters.

The case came to light in April 2011 when Sivasankaran in a complaint to CBI, accused former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran of arm-twisting to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis. Sivasankaran had alleged that licenses vital for his business were held up by Maran, who was pressuring him to sell Aircel to Maxis. After Sivasankaran sold Aircel to Maxis, the licenses he had applied for were granted.

Siva accused Maran of pressurising him to sell his stake in Aircel to Maxis

Following the controversy, Maran resigned from the post in mid-2011 after the CBI reported 'some element of coercion' in the deal.

CBI, in 2011 had filed its FIR in the case, alleging that then Dayanidhi had used his influence to help Malayasian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan acquire Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran. It was alleged by former Aircel chief C Sivasankaran that the then Telecom Minister had favoured Malaysia-based Maxis group in the takeover of his company and in return investments were made by the company through Astro network in a company owned by the Maran family.

CBI has named Dayanidhi, his brother Kalanithi Maran, Maxis owner T Ananda Krishnan, senior executive Ralph Marshall three companies on charges of criminal conspiracy under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act.

Another former Union Minister P Chidambaram seems to be embroiled in controversy. Swamy had revealed that financial transactions between the companies were controlled by Chidambaram's son Karti and he was benefited from former Finance Minister's position to earn huge profits during the sale of Aircel.

Chidambaram and his son's alleged role in the deal

In April 2012, Swamy released a set of documents strengthening his claims that Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited controlled by Karti Chidambaram had given Rs 26 lakh (Rs 2.6 million) as loans and advances to Siva's Aircel Televenture Ltd before March 31, 2006.

This transaction took place during the period when the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which reported to Chidambaram, was processing the Aircel-Maxis deal.

Swamy further alleged that Chidambaram delayed the clearance till his son received shares in Siva's company, which pocketed the Malaysian investment.

Another controversy is that Maxis declared to the Malaysian Stock Exchange that it had acquired 99.7 percent shares in Aircel which is a clear violation of Indian law. According to Indian law, the maximum permissible level of foreign investment in the telecom sector is 74 percent.

Since, Centre has begun inquiry against Maran brothers, it should begin necessary proceedings against former Finance Minister Chidambaram and his son for their alleged role in the case.

Meanwhile, Swamy on Tuesday described the Aircel-Maxis deal as a very big scam and said that it impeaches on national security of the country. "As I am a petitioner in Aircel-Maxis deal case, I can say that it is a very big scam, and it also impeaches on our national security," said Swamy.

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