'Marans got Rs 742 cr bribe'

'Marans got Rs 742 cr bribe'

CBI files charge sheet in Aircel-Maxis case

'Marans got Rs 742 cr bribe'

The Maran brothers received Rs 742 crore as "illegal gratification" for forcing Aircel owner C Sivasankaran to sell his telecom company to Malaysia-based Maxis, the CBI has said in its charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case.

The probe agency has also informed the court that the “aspect of irregularity” in grant of approval by the FIPB, chaired by then finance minister P Chidambaram, for the Aircel-Maxis deal is being “further investigated”.

Then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, the younger brother of Sun Group chief Kalanidhi Maran, “abused official position and constricted” the business environment of Aircel on “frivolous grounds” with intent to “force its exit” from telecom business and its sale to Malaysia-based company, the CBI said.

Aircel initially wanted to sell it to Hutchison Essar Limited, sources said, but Maran allegedly kept the matter pending.  However, after the change of ownership, the pending approvals before the Department of Telecommunications were “acceded to and undue favour was given to these companies” in grant of telecom spectrum.

The CBI charge sheet said, “illegal gratification” of around Rs 549 crore was paid by Astro All Asia Network, a UK-based subsidiary of Maxis, to Sun Group in the garb of purchase of its shares at a premium of Rs 69.57 per share through its subsidiary, a Mauritius-based company.

“Besides an illegal gratification of Rs 193 crore was also paid by UK-based company to a company of Chennai (South Asia FM Limited of Sun Group) through its subsidiaries of Mauritius based monitoring company and other software company of Mauritius (South Asia Multimedia Technologies and South Asia Software Technologies Limited),” the charge sheet stated.

The CBI said it had completed investigations though Malaysia refused to provide information. The agency got inputs from UK and Mauritius. The charge sheet has named 151 witnesses, besides a set of 655 documents.

Marans and Maxis have denied any wrongdoings. Chidambaram had also denied allegations. Denying the allegations, Maxis had approached Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeking a "fair and unbiased" treatment.

The filing of charge sheet against Maran brothers, Maxis promoter T Ananda Krishnan (Malaysian citizen) and Augustus Ralph Marshall, who headed Maxis’ UK-based subsidiary Astro All Asia Network, came a day after the Supreme Court refused to restrain the CBI.

It also came after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi cleared the decks for the filing of the charge sheet. There were differences in the probe agency over filing of charge sheet with Director Ranjit Sinha opposing the move.

Sun Direct TV Pvt Limited, Astro All Asia Network, Maxis Communications and South Asia Entertainment, Mauritius was also named. Former telecom secretary J S Sharma, who died during investigations, was also named in the charge sheet but in a column of the accused against whom trial could not proceed.

The CBI had registered the case in October 2011 after a preliminary enquiry, which was registered on the directions of the Supreme Court. During monitoring of the investigation in 2G spectrum case, the apex court in December 2010 had directed the CBI to investigate the irregularities committed in the grant of licenses from 2001 to 2007.

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