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Aircel-Maxis deal: CBI grills Chidambaram

Though, CBI is not revealing anything officially in the matter, Chidambaram himself confirmed the same while speaking to reporter. “They (CBI) took a brief statement from me on the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval. I repeated what I said in my press statement earlier. Nothing more than that,” Chidambaram said in a press statement.

Earlier, in September, Chidambaram defended himself by claiming that the files on Aircel-Maxis were put forward to him by ministry officials and he approved it in the normal course. However, CBI sources said, “The Finance Minister was competent for giving sanction only up to Rs 600 crore and the Aircel-Maxis deal was way above that limit. The matter should have been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval but it was not done in this case. We have found some irregularities, which need to be probed.”

On August 29, the CBI filed a chargesheet against former Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran along with six others before Special CBI Judge O P Saini at Patiala HC in the case.

Besides the Maran brothers, those who were named in the charge-sheet are Malaysian business tycoon and owner of Maxis Group T Ananda Krishnan, Augustus Ralph Marshall (Director of Maxis), top executives of Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd (owned by Kalanithi who is the Managing Director of the Group), ASTRO All Asia Networks, South Asia Entertainment Holdings Limited in Mauritius and Maxis Communication Berhad.

They have been charged with punishable offence under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The probe agency has told the Supreme Court that Maran had allegedly forced a Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell the stake in Aircel to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006 owned by Ananda Krishnan. The charge-sheet was filed a day after the apex court on August 28 turned down the plea of Dayanidhi seeking to restrain CBI from filing the charge sheet, saying that investigation in the case is still going on.

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