Dayanidhi to go scot-free? CBI may have to close Aircel-Maxis case

It seems former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, accused in the Aircel-Maxiscorruption case, may go scot-free as the CBI has not been able to get any usefulinformation from Malaysia in the deal.

According to an article inThe Economic Times today,a seniorCBI officialhas told the paper that the agency would find it difficult to file a chargesheet in the case involvingMaran as Malyasia has not responded to its queries time and again.

The CBI official said that unless the agency can link quid pro quo with beneficiaries in this case of alleged bribery with help of information and documents from Malaysia, the case does not stand.

The news may come as a relief to Maran who had to step down as aCabinet ministerfollowing the CBI FIR against him.

 Dayanidhi to go scot-free? CBI may have to close Aircel-Maxis case

Dayanidhi Maran. PTI

In its 4 June issue,Tehelkamagazine published an expose suggesting that Dayanidhi Maran had favoured the Malaysian Maxis Group with telecom licences and spectrum in return for which the Sun TV Group got over Rs 675 crore worth of investments from Maxis in its direct-to-home dish TV venture.

Maran denied it, saying he was totally impartial, and that he had no stake in his brother's business.

According to reports, Aircel's applications for new circles were pending since Maran's takeover as minister for communications and IT in May 2004. It was only after March 2006, when Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan bought 74 percent stake in Aircel, that its file gained momentum. Krishnan paid Rs 3,390.82 crore for 74 percent equity in Aircel.

Six months after Ananda Krishnan's takeover of Aircel, the ministry granted Aircel the much-vaunted licences in 14 cash-rich circles.

Maran is alleged to have stalled issue of licence to Aircel promoter C Sivasankaran forcing him to sell his 74 percent stake to the Malaysia-based Maxis group. Maran's brother Kalanithi Maran's company, Sun Direct, allegedly got a quid pro quo investment of Rs 500 crore in return from a holding company of Maxis.

There's more. According to an article byS GurumurthyinThe New Indian Express, Dayanidhi, when he was Communications Minister in UPA-1, got a public sector company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), to give his brother's company 323 telephone lines for free in Chennai.

Gurumurthy, quoting a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report, had said that Dayanidhi got "all the 323 home lines listed not in his name but in the name of the Chief General Manager, BSNL, Chennai. These lines virtually constituted a telephone exchange in the minister's home. It was exclusively used for his family business by laying a 3.4-km-long secret cable along public roads to connect the lines to the business premises (of Sun TV). This had caused huge loss to BSNL....The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), which probed the fraud, wrote to the Secretary, Telecom, on 9 September 2007 recommending action against Maran for the fraud."

The report noted that these were costly ISDN lines, which could carry tons and tons of TV news and programmes faster than satellites to any part of the world. Precisely, the facility that Sun TV would need for its telecasting operations. For this, Sun TV would have paid huge cost. But it got it all free, at government's cost.

On 13 June, the CBI said the information received from Malaysia in connection with the probe in theAircel-Maxisdeal prima facie indicates thatforeign exchangerules were allegedly violated.

However, CBI sources said the agency needs clarity on some points which might be referred back to the Malaysian authorities for detailed responses after which it might finalise its charge sheet in the matter.

The CBI is required to establish that the payments to Sun TV were made by the Malaysian holding company of Maxis in return for the licence to Maxis. And it seems, Malaysia is blocking any information relating to the Maxis chairman.

Will go Dayanidhi Maran go scot free?

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 22:33:06 IST