Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran had allegedly received bribe of Rs 742 crore for coercing entrepreneur C Sivasankaran to sell his Telecom company Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis, according to CBI.
"Investigation revealed that Dayanidhi Maran, the then Telecom Minister in abuse of official position constricted the business environment of Aircel Televentures Limited on frivolous ground with an intent to force its exit from telecom business and its sale to Maxis Communication, Malaysia," CBI has alleged in its charge sheet filed today.
It is alleged that various proposals, which were crucial to functioning of Aircel including licenses for various circles and change in equity--were kept pending by Maran on frivolous grounds for nearly eight months despite clearances from the various department.
"Sivasankaran wanted to sell the Aircel Cellular Limited to Aircel Digilink India Ltd, owned by Hutchison Essar Limited, but allegedly the minister kept the matter pending for eight month in respect of change in equity share pattern of Aircel Limited to Aircel Digilink India Limited despite unanimous recommendation from the officials of Department of Telecom," the CBI claimed.
Later, Aircel had to withdraw the application after eight months citing reasons that the approval for change in equity was not received from the DoT, it alleged.
"This is why charge of abuse of official position has been made in the charge sheet against the Minister. However, since the charges of criminal conspiracy are also there, all the accused will be judged by same yardstick," said an official.
The agency has charged Maran, his brother Kalanithi, T Ananda Krishnan, promoter of Maxis based in Malaysia, Augustus Ralph Marshall who headed Maxis's UK based subsidiary Astro All Asia Network and companies Sun Direct TV Pvt Limited, Astro All Asia Network, Maxis Communications and South Asia Entertainment, Mauritius.
In November 2005, Sivasankaran was told by the Minister to sell the company to Maxis through meetings and phone calls.
"After the change in ownership, the requests/approvals pending since long before the Department of Telecom were acceded to and undue favour was given to these companies," CBI alleged in the charge sheet.
The sources alleged that bribe of Rs 549 crore in return of the favours was paid by Maxis through its subsidiary Astro All Asia Network Pvt Limited based in the United Kingdom in the garb of investment (total investment of Rs 629 crore) in Sun Direct Pvt Limited, owned by Maran's brother Kalanithi.
The investment was done through purchase of shares of