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Maran forced Sivasankaran to sell stakes: CBI tells court

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday told the trial court in the telecom spectrum case that former minister Dayanidhi Maran had “pressurised and forced” Chennai-based businessman C Sivasankaran to sell his company to the Malaysia-based Maxis group. And, that he’d showed undue haste to clear telecom licences for the latter.

“Maran forced Sivasankaran to sell his three companies to Maxis Communication. Sivasankaran was not allowed to do business as Maran kept a decision pending on grant of licences to his firm,” prosecutor K K Goel told judge O P Saini.

CBI argued that Maxis would have to pay more for the buy-out of Aircel if licences were granted to Sivasankaran. “Maran showed undue haste in clearing telecom licences to Aircel as soon as it was taken over by Maxis Communication,” Goel argued.

The matter was before the trial court to take cognizance of the chargesheet filed by the agency in this case on August 29. The court has fixed the date for further argument on September 22. It is likely to issue a summons to all those accused, including Dayanidhi Maran and his tycoon brother, Kalanithi Maran, at the next hearing.

Others accused are Malaysian tycoon T Ananda Krishnan, Malaysian national Augustus Ralph Marshall and four companies — Sun Direct TV, Maxis Communication Berhad, Astro All Asia Network and South Asia Entertainment Holding. They all have been charged with criminal conspiracy and various sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the agency, Maxis had paid a bribe of Rs 600 crore for telecom licences in the garb of investment in a company run by Kalanithi Maran. The licences were granted during Dayanidhi Maran’s term as telecom minister (2004-2007). Maxis and South Asia Entertainment Holding have denied the charges.

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