Chidambaram tells CBI he did no wrong

PC was examined by agency for clearance given to FIPB on Aircel-Maxis deal

Chidambaram tells CBI he did no wrong

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has examined former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, seeking his stand on the clearance given by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the Aircel-Maxis deal, which is being investigated by the agency.

He was “recently examined” and his statement was recorded to know his view on the charge that the Finance Minister was not competent to give sanction for the Rs 3,500 crore deal as he could sanction only projects worth up to Rs 600 crore, sources said.

Investigators had in September told a local court that Chidambaram’s nod for the deal was a “mistake” though the former minister insisted that he had done no wrong and that he was sure that the files will “bear out the correctness” of his position.

The former minister said the CBI took a brief statement from him on the FIPB approval. “I repeated what I said in my press statement earlier. Nothing more than that,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Chidambaram’s role was examined during the investigation into the case filed by Aircel promoter C Sivasankaran claiming that he was coerced by former Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanidhi to sell his company to Malaysia based Maxis.

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

According to the charge sheet that contains names of 151 CBI witnesses and a set of 655 documents, Maran brothers received Rs 742 crore as “illegal gratification” for forcing Sivasankaran to sell his telecom company to Maxis in 2006. It had said that the “aspect of irregularity” in grant of approval by FIPB, chaired by Chidambaram, is being “further investigated”.

The agency’s contention is that Chidambaram should have referred the matter to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) as foreign investments above Rs 600 crore can only be cleared by it.

Chidambaram had said that the FIPB sought the approval of the Finance Minister in accordance with the rules. The case was submitted through the Additional Secretary and Secretary, DEA.  Both of them recommended the case for approval.

“Approval was granted by me, as Finance Minister, in the normal course”, Chidambaram had said.

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