India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s sheer inaction against the former Finance Minister P Chidambaram for dubious approval of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to Malaysian company Maxis to take over Aircel, resulted in the discharge of former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and brother Sun TV Group head Kalanidhi Maran. For the past 30 months the CBI has not turned up in the 2G Court after promising in August 2014 to finish the probe on FIPB violations committed by Chidambaram.
Swamy’s version was that Maran only conspired with Chidambaram in illegally bringing Maxis to India.
Maran’s name cropped up in Aircel-Maxis scam in April 2011, when CBI received complaint from Aircel promoter Sivasankaran, alleging that he was arm twisted by the Telecom Minister in 2006 to sell his company to Maxis. CBI went ahead with the arm-twisting theory and stated in Supreme Court on July 7, 2011 leading to Maran’s exit from UPA Cabinet. CBI filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Maran in September 2011 along with brother, Maxis owners T Ananadakrishnan and Ralph Marshall and companies including the Sun TV Group. Still it is a mystery, as to why Sivasankaran approached CBI against Maran in 2011 on arm-twisting that happened five years ago.
Aircel-Maxis scam shook the Congress, when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy (then in Janata Party) in April 2012, exposed the role of Chidambaram in the scam and money trail to his son Karti linked firm of around Rs.26 lakhs. Then Swamy went to Supreme Court’s 2G cases monitoring Bench arguing that CBI’s Maran arm-twisting theory was not fully correct and that the actual crime started after P Chidambaram granted the bogus FIPB clearance. Swamy’s version was that Maran only conspired with Chidambaram in illegally bringing Maxis to India.
After Chidambaram was caught, the case went into deep freeze till the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) exited from power. CBI, in August 2014, after pressure from Supreme Court on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Prashant Bhushan, charge sheeted Maran and others in August 2014, detailing the illegalities of Chidambaram. CBI promised in charge sheet and in arguments of finishing soon on the probe on Chidambaram’s illegalities. Though Chidambaram was questioned by CBI in December 2014, CBI did not move an inch due to stalling by allegedly the then pliant CBI Director Anil Sinha and covert operations of the then Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das (Das has since been shunted out to be the Secretary of Economic Affairs).
But as FIPB Chairperson Chidambaram did not take it to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA).
In the Discharge Order on February 2, 2017, Special Judge of 2G Court OP Saini clearly says that CBI just jumped on Sivasankaran’s complaints and never provided evidence of arm-twisting. The main illegality was committed by Chidambaram in dubiously giving the FIPB clearance. How can Maran be fixed after the FIPB clearance? Without Chidambaram there is no case against Maran.
What were the illegalities of Chidambaram exposed by Subramanian Swamy and later ratified by the CBI and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)?
- Aircel-Maxis deal is around Rs.3600 cr. ($535 million) But as FIPB Chairperson Chidambaram did not take it to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA). This is the only FDI he did not take to CCEA. Why? Because MHA clearance would have been needed as Saudi Telecom, which has telecom operations in Pakistan has shares in Maxis.
- That time only 74% FDI was allowed. But using a circuitous route Maxis got 99.93% ownership, which they declared to the Malaysian Stock Exchange.
- 74% of the stake was sold at more than Rs. 3600 crores ($535 million) but the remaining 25.93% was sold at just Rs.28 cr. ($4.2 million) It should have been sold at around Rs.1200 cr. ($178 million)
- Later CAG found out that the actual money that came was Rs. 4900 cr. ($728 million) though approved by FIPB(illegally) was Rs.3600 cr.). The extra Rs.1300 cr. ($193 million) was a kickback.
- ED now summoned Karti in Oct 2016. The five page summons order says to bring 2 lakh dollar his company Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd received from three Maxis companies after father approved this dubious deal.
The million dollar question is who in this BJP-led government protected Chidambaram and son Karti from CBI and ED charge sheeting? Not doing this of the main culprit Chidambaram led to the discharge of Maran brothers. When is CBI going to act on this grave miscarriage of justice?