CBI says Dayanidhi Maran forced Siva to sell Aircel stake to Maxis

Investigative agency tells Supreme Court that Maran had during his stint as telecom minister repeatedly ignored applications by Sivasankaran for a UAS licence, which was granted to Aircel within six months of the takeover by Maxis

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has charged that textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran forced a Chennai-based telecom promoter to sell his stake in Aircel to a Malaysian firm in 2006.
In a fresh 71-page status report on the 2G scam, it submitted to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the investigation agency said that during 2004-07, when Mr Maran was the telecom minister, C Sivasankaran was forced to sell the stake in Aircel to Malaysia's Maxis Group.

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, who read the status report before a bench of judges GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, did not take Mr Maran's name, but stated that the Chennai businessman was not granted a UAS licence for two years, whereas the Malaysian firm was granted a licence within six months of taking over Aircel in December 2006. Mr Maran was 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 firm," Mr Venugopal said, reading out from the status report.

After presenting its report in the Court, agency sources indicated that Mr Maran would likely be questioned in this connection, reports PTI.

Following the declaration in Court, Mr Maran's opponents have demanded his ouster from the government, saying that his continuing as a minister is untenable.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Communist Party of India (CPI) said Mr Maran should resign. Arch rival of the DMK and chief minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalitha also demanded his dismissal from the Union Cabinet.

Already Mr Maran's colleagues in the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), former telecom minister A Raja and member of parliament Kanimozhi are in judicial custody, also charged with irregularities in the allocation of 2G telecom spectrum.

During the hearing, Mr Venugopal told the Court that the CBI is to complete its probe into the money trail, involving the 2G spectrum allocation scam, by 31st August.

He also added that the probe into all irregularities in the spectrum allocation during 2001-08 will be completed within three months by 30th September.

The bench scheduled the next hearing for 11th July.

Earlier, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation placed documents before the apex court showing the alleged role of Mr Maran in favouring the Maxis Group when he was telecom minister from 2004 to 2007.

CPIL alleged that Mr Maran, who is now Union textiles minister, had during his tenure as telecom minister granted 14 licences to Aircel which had invested Rs599.01 crore in his family-owned business.

Later, he allegedly delayed the award of UAS licences to Aircel which had been applied to the Department of Telecommunications since 2004, by raising irrelevant issues from time to time, and ignoring the request of its owner C Sivasankaran to resolve them, following which he sold the company to the Maxis group which is owned by Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan.


Probe into Essar, Swan to be over by 31st August: CBI

Investigating agency informs SC that Ministry of Corporate Affairs said oil major had less than 3% stake in Loop, when documents show it had more than 10%

New Delhi: The crossholding of shares of Essar in Loop Telecom was again in focus before the Supreme Court on Wednesday with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) describing as "unfortunate" the letter issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) claiming that the oil major had a less than 10% stake in the telecom venture.

Assuring that the probe would be wound up by 31st August, the CBI informed the Court about the documents it had procured from Mauritius that gave shareholding details of the companies which were allegedly used in the transfer of funds, reports PTI.

The CBI claimed that it had documents to show that Essar had more than 10% shares in Loop Telecom, while a recent letter from the MCA stated that it had less than 3% shares. This is "unfortunate", especially when the Court is monitoring the case, agency sources said.

The CBI also said that a fresh round of questioning of the company's officials would be carried out. Sources alleged that the corporate house was engaged in diversionary tactics by flooding various wings of the government with legal opinions. Essar had recently submitted the legal opinions of former solicitor general Harish Salve and former chief justice VN Khare.

The CBI will also send a formal request to Switzerland to help to track the alleged money trail of Swan Telecom, which has been named in the 2G spectrum case, after documents received from Mauritius indicated transfer of money to some European countries that are considered tax havens.

The agency said letters rogatory would be soon sent to Swiss authorities, to secure details about Maavi, the company which owns Delphi. The CBI said it had conclusive evidence suggesting that Delphi is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maavi, but it had drawn a blank on the ownership of the company.

Delphi is under the scanner for fund transfers in Swan Telecom, in which Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications is alleged to have a more than 10% stake.


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