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National
CBI will probe Chidambaram connection in Aircel-Maxis deal
20-09-2014

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will investigate the circumstances of the FIPB approval given by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.

The agency told a special court in its charge-sheet in the case that Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for USD 800 million for which Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was competent to do so.

“However, the approval was granted by the then Finance Minister. Further investigation is being carried out into the circumstances of the said FIPB approval granted by the then Finance Minister. The related issues are also being investigated,” the charge-sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case before special judge OP Saini said.

The agency said that Finance Minister was competent to accord approval on project proposals of up to Rs 600 crore and proposals beyond this required the approval of CCEA.

“In the instant case, the approval of FDI of 800 million USD was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval. However, it was not obtained,” it claimed.

However, sources who were in the know of developments in the matter at that time said that the FIPB sought only the approval of the minister and not the CCEA as it was not required under the rules then.

CBI had charge-sheeted former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran, T Ananda Krishnan, Malaysian national Augustus Ralph Marshall and four firms—Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd, Maxis Communication Berhad, South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd and Astro All Asia Network PLC—as accused in the case.

Reacting to the development, Chidambaram, in a statement, said, “In the Aircel-Maxis case, the FIPB sought the approval of the Finance Minister in accordance with the rules. The case was submitted through the Additional Secretary and Secretary, DEA. Both of them recommended the case for approval. Approval was granted by me, as Finance Minister, in the normal course.”

He said, “I understand that the officials of FIPB who dealt with the matter have explained to the CBI that under the rules, as they stood then, the case required only the approval of the Finance Minister. I am sure the files will bear out the correctness of this position,” Chidambaram added

Chidambaram said his attention has been drawn to a portion of the charge-sheet filed by CBI in the Aircel-Maxis case and added "the FIPB is chaired by the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs. It recommends proposals for the approval of the Finance Minister and, where required under the rules, the approval of the CCEA".