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What is the Aircel Maxis deal and why is Dayanidhi Maran in trouble?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014 - 1:15pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

The Aircel Maxis controversy has its roots in the infamous 2G spectrum scam case when the Supreme Court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate Dayanidhi Maran, the telecom minister before A Raja. Maran had to resign from the Union cabinet in April 2011.

Aircel is a telecom company owned by C Sivasankaran. Maxis is a Malaysian company owned by T Ananda Krishnan, popularly known as Tak. In 2006, Maxis acquired Aircel by buying 74% stake. Sivasankaran complained to the CBI in April 2011 that Maran had arm twisted hi to sell his stake to Maxis.

CBI's FIR: Maran's role in the deal

In October 2011, as reported by Firstpost, the CBI filed a first information report (FIR) against Maran that alleged that he received Rs 549 crore for favouring Aircel in various deals that were owned by Maxis. The amount was allegedly received by a company owned by Dayanidhi Maran's brother, Kalanidhi Maran. Kalanidhi Maran controls the Sun TV Network.

The allegations were as follows: On June 1 2007, Enam Securities in a valuation pegged the value of Sun TV between Rs 3,465.76 crore and Rs 4,039 crore. This is a gross over valuation given Tata Sky's vale even after rolling out DTH services was Rs 2500 crore.

Maran had cleared various deals and licences for Maxis, and Maxis's sister company Astro invested Rs 629 crore in Sun TV to buy 20% of its stake. This puts the share price of Sun TV at Rs 69.57 while Kalanidhi Maran bought the remaining 80% stake at Rs 10 per share.

The FIR also mentioned how Dayanidhi Maran had counselled Sivasankaran into selling his stake of Aircel to Maxis. Maran would neither give spectrum to Siva despite repeated applications, nor would he grant him an appointment to meet. Siva was “arm twisted” into selling his stake to Maxis, and soon after Astro invested the money in Sun TV. 

Deadlock in investigation

In May 2014, the CBI told the Supreme Court that there was difference of opinion between the CBI director and the investigating officers over filing the chargesheet against Maran. As a result, they had to refer the case to the Attorney General. One of the petitioners in the case, Prashant Bhushan told the Court that the CBI was sitting on the decision for six months. The court asked Rajeshwar Singh, the deputy director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to continue with the investigation, which he was not allowed to previously according to Subramanian Swamy's allegations.

What the Attorney General's statement means

The attorney general has now asked the CBI to go ahead and file a chargesheet against both Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran. Mukul Rohatgi, the AG in India, said there was enough evidence against the DMK leader and his brother to do so. If the CBI goes ahead with the AG's advice, Dayanidhi Maran will be the second DMK minister after A Raja to be implicated in the case. Raja is already in jail for the 2G spectrum case, which is still under trial. 

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