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Maxis paid Rs 600 cr to Marans for telecom licences: CBI chargesheet

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday filed the much-awaited chargesheet in a second case related to 2G spectrum allocation case, naming the Maran brothers–Dayanidhi and Kalanithi. Dayanidhi Maran is the third DMK MP and second former minister in the UPA government to be chargesheeted in the 2G scam. Earlier, A Raja and Kanimozhi were in judicial custody for several months for the 2G case.

The agency told the Special CBI court that Malaysia based Maxis Communication had paid bribe money for telecom licences in the garb of investment in a company run by business tycoon Kalanithi Maran. The licences were allotted during the tenure of Dayanidhi Maran as telecom minister from 2004 and 2007.

The chargesheet was brought to the court in nine trunks and the documents could not be fully scanned due to paucity of time. The courtroom on Friday, though, was not as filled as earlier when the 2G hearing was at its peak in 2012-13.

The CBI charged both the brothers, besides naming Augustus Ralph Marshall and T. Ananda Krishnan for criminal conspiracy and under various provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. Same charges were applied against Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd., Astro All Asia Network Plc., Maxis Communication Bhd., and South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd. Marshall is deputy chairman of Astro and director of Maxis. Krishnan is Malaysia based billionaire and philanthropist, who owns Maxis, and Kalanithi is the promoter of Sun TV.

The agency has also named former telecom secretary J S Sarma, who died during the course of investigation, in the chargesheet filed before Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

“We have got enough evidence in the case. The total bribe money paid to Marans through equity purchase was around Rs. 600 crore,” said a senior CBI official, who refused to be identified for the story.

Marans and Sun TV spokesperson could not be reached for an immediate comment. Mails sent to Maxis and Aircel did not elicit any response till the time of going to press.

Judge Saini will take cognizance of the chargesheet on September 11 and will summon the accused accordingly. Chargesheet is the culmination of investigation or the First Information Report (FIR) and cognizance is generally a formality to start the trial in the case. However, a judge can reject the investigation, if he doesn’t find enough merit in the chargesheet at this level.

The agency had registered a criminal case in October 2011, following the Supreme Court directions. The apex court is monitoring all investigations related to the second generation spectrum case and had told the CBI to probe grant of all telecom licences allotted from 2001-2007.

The investigation into this case began after C. Sivasankaran made a complaint before the CBI that Maran had coerced him to sell his telecom company Aircel to Maxis before granting Aircel 14 telecom licences. Sivasankaran told the agency that Dayanidhi didn’t clear licences to his company until it was sold to Maxis.

In return, Maxis through Astro bought stake in Sun TV, run by Kalanithi, at a much higher value than the prevailing market rate. The CBI in its chargesheet has confirmed that there was an unnecessary delay in granting licences to Aircel, and undue haste was shown when the company was sold to Maxis. Marshall, who was part of both Maxis and Astro boards, played a key role in clearing the entire deal.

The case has gone through many twists and turns. Business Standard earlier reported that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had disagreed with CBI Director Ranjit Sinha’s opinion regarding filing of the chargesheet. While Rohatgi was in favour, Sinha felt there was not enough material to pursue the chargesheet.

The agency had in November last year referred the matter to Rohatgi’s predecessor, G E Vahanvati, but did not get a response. K K Venugopal, CBI’s counsel in the case in the Supreme Court, had earlier told the court the Malaysian government had declined to part with information on the matter, saying “no criminality of T Ananda Krishnan has been established” which had weakened CBI’s case further.

–with inputs from Chennai Bureau

C. Sivasankaran sold Aircel to Maxis, owned by T. Ananda Krishnan

Maxis through Astro All Asia Network Plc invested Rs. 600 crore in Sun Direct TV Pvt, owned by Kalanithi Maran

Kalanithi Maran is brother of Dayanidhi Maran, who had allotted telecom licences to Aircel during his tenure as telecom minister from 2004-2007

Marans allegedly coerced Sivasankaran to sell Aircel to Maxis. Dayanidhi didn’t clear licences to Aircel until it was sold to Maxis

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