Aircel-Maxis deal: Order on charge and bail on November 30
On the issue of framing charges against former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, a special court had reserved its order in the Aircel-Maxis deal case lodged by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Reportedly, special Judge O P Saini would pronounce on November 30 the orders on framing of charge as well as on bail applications of the Maran brothers and other accused persons.
“Arguments on point of charge and bail for both parties are complete. Both parties prayed that they wish to file written submissions also. They are at liberty to file the same within seven days. Put up the matter for order on charge and bail on November 30,” the court said.
The Hindu Business Line reported that all the accused have denied the allegations against them by the investigating agencies and all of them have moved bail pleas in the case.
It has been reported that during the arguments on framing of charges, Anand Grover, Special Public Prosecutor had claimed that Dayanidhi Maran had “pressurised” Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006. However, the charge was strongly refuted by Dayanidhi.
The report also added that CBI had filed charge sheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, T Ananda Krishnan, M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd, M/s Astro All Asia Networks Plc, UK, M/s Maxis Communications Berhad, Malaysia, and M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia and then Additional Secretary (Telecom) late J S Sarma.
These had been chargesheeted for alleged offences punishable under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
However, in the money laundering case, ED has chargesheeted the Maran brothers, Kalanithi’s wife Kavery, Managing Director of South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) K Shanmugam, SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) as accused under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
However, after the court had “enough incriminating material”, the court had summoned the six accused to proceed against them. However, Dayanidhi Maran, the former Union Minister, argued the framing of charges against him saying that during the time period in which the alleged crime was committed, as claimed by CBI, Sivasankaran was in talks with several other companies to sell his stakes in Aircel.
His counsel said that the business transaction between Aircel and Maxis was finalised in October 2005.
Kalanithi Maran also reportedly argued that CBI’s claim was false and the complainant was himself eager for the business and that he was falsely implicated in the case.
On September 24, the court had issued open warrants of arrest against Krishnan and Marshall on CBI’s plea stating that summons issued to them could not be served. It also ordered that the trial against Maran brothers and two accused companies be segregated from that of those based in Malaysia — Krishnan, Marshall, and two firms, Astro All Asia Network PLC and Maxis Communication Berhad, saying their appearance may take a long time which may lead to a delay in the proceedings.
N K Matta, ED’s special prosecutor had earlier claimed in arguments that there were money transactions which allegedly showed that SDTPL and SAFL had received Rs 742.58 crore as “proceeds of crime” from Mauritius-based firms in the Aircel-Maxis deal.
Reportedly, the agency had claimed that “proceeds of crime” amounting to Rs. 549.03 crore and Rs. 193.55 crore were received by SDTPL and SAFL, allegedly controlled by co-accused Kalanithi, through various Mauritius-based entities.
ED has alleged that Dayanidhi had generated illegal funds worth Rs 742.58 crore through illegal means, and obtained “illegal gratification” and the money was “parked” in the firms of Kalanithi Maran by projecting it as untainted.
ED had also claimed that Kalanithi was controlling both SDTPL and SAFL, where the money was infused through Mauritius-based companies.