Aircel-Maxis case: CBI examines former finance minister P Chidambaram

P Chidambaram

New Delhi, Dec 16: The CBI on Tuesday examined former finance minister P Chidamabaram in connection with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to Rs 3500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.

According to CBI sources, Chidambaram has earlier been examined in connection with the case on the charge that the Finance Minister was competent to sanction only upto Rs 600 crore and the Aircel-Maxis deal was way above that limit.

The matter should have been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) as foreign investments above Rs 600 crore can only be cleared by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by the Prime Minister, the sources said.

The Special CBI court was informed that how this clearance was given is still under investigation. CBI prosecutor KK Goel had told the court: “We have not concluded the probe on this aspect yet.”

When contacted, Chidambaram reportedly said that “they (CBI) took a brief statement from me on the FIPB approval. I repeated what I said in my press statement earlier. Nothing more than that.”

In September, Chidambaram had stated that the file regarding the case was put up before him by officials and he approved it “in the normal course”.

Chidambaram through a statement had 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.”

Chidambaram had 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 “I am sure the files will bear out the correctness of this position,” Chidambaram had said. Chidambaram had said “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”.

The agency had told the court in its charge sheet in the case that Mauritius-based M/s Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for $800 million for which the CCEA was competent to do so.

In its charge sheet, CBI had named 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.

They have been charge sheeted for the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and under relevant provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

(With Agency Inputs)

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