Aircel-Maxis case: CBI mulling to question Finance Ministry officials

CBI is mulling questioning some officials of the Finance Ministry who were part of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance process given to Aircel-Maxis deal even as it plans to file the first charge sheet in the matter this week.

Making it clear that no suspects have been identified as of now, CBI sources said the agency is likely to call them to understand the reasons for granting FIPB clearance to the deal which is now facing allegations of corruption.

Top sources in the agency refused to give details but said they will look into the clearance given to the take over of Aircel by Malaysian telecom major Maxis in 2006 in which allegations of irregularities have surfaced.

The sources said that the first charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case will be filed this week against then Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and others on charges of criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

They, however, clarified that if any mala fide is found in the clearance, it will be part of further charge sheets which might be filed, if needed.

The probe in FIPB clearance will begin after filing of charge sheet in the case and any conclusion will be drawn after going through the documents and examination of officials concerned of the Finance Ministry.

The sources said further probe into FIPB could take CBI knocking on the doors of top echelons of the Finance Ministry who were at the helm of affairs related to clearance.

CBI’s move to file charge sheet comes after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, based on available material, gave his nod to prosecute Mr. Maran and others in the case.

Maxis wrote to Directorate of Prosecution, O P Verma, CBI claiming that the deal was done with the full consent of the Aircel Board of Directors.

“Chairman Aircel informed about the Board that the offer price quoted Ms Maxis Communication Berhad is quite attractive... Exchange of correspondence with Mr. Sivasankaran in the course of negotiations which will show that Mr. Sivasankaran was a willing and that he had obtained the valuation that he so desired or his investment in Aircel,” it said.

“While we are not privy to the contents of the subject opinion and usually do not respond to media reports, we are extremely concerned with this turn of events,” it said.

The sources said the matter was escalated to the office of the Attorney General as there was a difference of opinion between the views of investigation team and the CBI director Ranjit Sinha on charge sheeting the Maran brothers in the case.

While the team was of the view that enough evidence was available indicating role of Marans, CBI director Ranjit Sinha differed with the view and highlighted apparent weak points in the draft charges and available evidence.

CBI in 2011 had filed FIR in the case alleging that Mr. Maran as telecom minister had used his influence to help Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan acquire Aircel by coercing its owner C Sivasankaran.

It was alleged by Mr. Sivasankaran that the then telecom minister had favoured Maxis group in the takeover of his company and in return investments were made by the company through Astro network in a company owned by the Maran family.

Mr. Maran has denied all the allegations levelled against him and his family members.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 10:23:04 PM |

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