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Probing Chidambaram’s role in granting clearance to Aircel-Maxis deal, CBI tells SC

CBI today informed the Supreme Court that it is investigating former Finance Minister P Chidambaram's role in Aircel-Maxis deal.

India TV Politics Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: April 03, 2017 18:14 IST ]
Probing Chidambaram’s role in Aircel-Maxis deal, CBI
Probing Chidambaram’s role in Aircel-Maxis deal, CBI tells SC

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today informed the Supreme Court that it is investigating former Finance Minister P Chidambaram's role in granting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to Malaysian firm Maxis to buy 100 percent stake in Aircel.

The court asked the CBI to file a report detailing the status of probe being carried out on various aspects of the Aircel-Maxis deal case. 

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) also filed in a sealed cover the status report of its ongoing investigation in the money laundering case relating to the deal before a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud. 

The bench deferred the hearing by three weeks on the request made by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was not available. 

During the brief hearing, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy told the bench that he has received a reply from CBI stating that it was probing "all angles", including the FIPB clearance given to the deal allegedly by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in 2006. 

Swamy has alleged that Chidambaram had deliberately granted the FIPB clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal.

Mehta told the court that they needed two weeks to file the status report following which the bench posted the matter for hearing on May 2. 

Swamy said the CBI should be asked to file a status report in the case, after which the bench asked Mehta to do the needful before the next date of hearing. 

He has claimed that the then finance minister had given FIPB clearance to the deal which should have been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by the Prime Minister, as the CCEA alone was empowered to clear foreign investments over Rs 600 crore. 

"The money transaction involved in the process was around Rs 3,500 crore. FIPB clearance was given by the then finance minister, who should have sent it to the CCEA as the investment was way over Rs 600 crore," he had said. 

He had referred to CBI charge sheet in Aircel-Maxis deal case and said that the agency had said that the Finance Minister was competent to give approval of upto Rs 600 crore. 

The Rajya Sabha MP hailed the CBI's move as success and tweeted, "Success in Aircel Maxis  in SC,  CBI files letter stating FIPB pC decision is being investigated. ED  files status report on Karti. Next 2/5."

Later, Swamy told reporters outside the courtroom that he has provided all the information to the agencies regarding the alleged money transfer to Karti Chidambaram's purported foreign bank accounts by the beneficiaries of the deal. 

Earlier in February, the apex court gave Swamy two weeks to place credible material prima facie to prove that Chidambaram had deliberately granted FIPB clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal.

Swamy was also asked whether Chidambaram knew that the limit was Rs. 600 crore.

ED files status report in SC stating Chidambaram’s role in Aircel-Maxis case

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate has also filed its status report in the top court regarding the violation of the FIPB, stating the alleged role of former FM Chidambaram.

Earlier in February, the Enforcement Directorate had moved the apex court against the special court's order in the case which discharged Maran brothers and other accused without furnishing the bail bond properly.

The ED had also urged the apex court not to release the properties attached in the case.

Earlier, Swamy presented his case of a violation committed by Chidambaram in granting FIPB clearance to the Rs. 3,500 crore deal in 2006.

A Delhi Court had earlier in February discharged former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran after it found the evidence submitted to prosecute them insufficient.

Maran brothers were accused by the investigating agencies of helping Malaysian group Maxis to acquire Aircel in exchange for a kickback of approximately Rs. 700 crore.

The court also discharged Kalanithi's wife Kavery Kalanithi, South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) Managing Director K. Shanmugam and two companies -- SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) in two different cases.

The Central Bureau of investigation (CBI) Court had on December 19 last year deferred pronouncing its orders against Maran brothers and others to December 22.

A special 2G court had earlier on September 17 last year dismissed the applications filed by the ex-telecom minister and his brother, challenging its jurisdiction to try the Aircel-Maxis deal case in which they have been summoned as accused.

Pronouncing the order, the court had then said, "There is no manner of doubt that by the standard of subject matter and periodicity of alleged crime, the case fairly/squarely falls within the description/ designation of the 2G scam."

The Maran brothers challenged the jurisdiction of the special 2G court in both cases lodged by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.

The Enforcement Directorate alleged that two firms, South Asia FM Limited (SAFL) and Sun Direct TV Private Ltd. (SDTPL), had received Rs. 742.58 crore as "proceeds of crime" from Mauritius-based firms and that the two firms were then allegedly controlled by Kalanithi Maran.

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