To trace the money trail arising out of ‘payoffs' related to the deal

In a bid to get legal assistance for finding the elusive money trail in the Maran-Aircel Maxis case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has despatched Letters Rogatory (LRs) to four countries.

Highly placed CBI sources said the agency had sent LRs to Malaysia, Mauritius, Bermuda and another tax haven where alleged payoffs related to the deal were sent.

“We are awaiting responses from these countries before proceeding further. Our investigations are going on but it is crucial to track the money believed to have been routed through Mauritius, Bermuda and one more tax haven,'' the sources told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Admitting that sniffing out the trail was a “painstakingly slow'' process, the sources said investigators were treading cautiously as the probe involved getting assistance from appropriate authorities in foreign countries.

The LRs were sent within a few months of the CBI registering an FIR against the Maran brothers — Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran — and Ralph Marshall and T. Ananda Krishnan in October last year under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The agency has also named three private companies, including SUN Direct TV and Maxis Communications in the FIR.

The CBI alleged that Mr. Dayanidhi Maran who was Telecom Minister between 2004 and 2007 in the UPA-I government had deliberately delayed the licences to Aircel and showed undue favour to Malaysia-based Maxis. In return, investments were made by the company in Sun TV.

It was alleged that Mr. Maran “armtwisted” Aircel owner C. Sivasankaran to sell his stake to the Maxis group of Malaysia. Chennai-based Aircel was applying with the Department of Telecommunications for UAS licences from March 2004 onwards. Mr. Sivasankaran who was already quizzed by the CBI officials claimed that irrelevant issues were raised in order to delay the award of licences.

In March 2006, Mr. Sivasankaran was forced to sell Aircel to the Maxis group, owned by Malaysian business tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan, who bought 74 per cent stake. It was alleged that in return Mr. Ananda Krishnan invested close to Rs. 800 crore in Sun Network through a sister concern of the Maxis group. The company got the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in May 2006 and in November, the DoT issued 14 Letters of Intent to Aircel, and all of them were converted into licences in December 2006. After registering an FIR in October last, the CBI conducted simultaneous searches on the premises of the Maran brothers. The agency also named M/s Astro All Asia Networks, U.K. and other unknown officials and persons among the accused.

More In: National | News