CBI report in Aircel-Maxis case may have been leaked
An unsigned draft of a CBI status report in the Aircel-Maxis case was recovered from the Jor Bagh house of the Chidambarams in the national capital when ED officials searched it on January 13 in connection with their probe into money laundering charges in the Aircel-Maxis matter, an official said.
Portions of a draft status report on the Aircel-Maxis case prepared by the Central Bureau of Investigation may have found their way into the hands of P Chidambaram and his son Karthi Chidambaram before they were filed in the Supreme Court in 2013, officials familiar with the development claimed.
P Chidambaram was finance minister at the time. Hindustan Times couldn’t ascertain the contents of the portions of the draft report.
An unsigned draft of a CBI status report in the Aircel-Maxis case was recovered from the Jor Bagh house of the Chidambarams in the national capital when Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials searched it on January 13 in connection with their probe into money laundering charges in the Aircel-Maxis matter, an Enforcement Directorate official said, asking not to be identified.
Following the recovery, ED wrote to the CBI seeking confirmation on the nature of the document recovered, the official said.
According to this person, the federal investigating agency has now confirmed that the document was part of the draft that found its way into the final status report that was submitted to the top court.
“We found an unsigned draft of what we thought was a CBI status report in the Aircel-Maxis case. We immediately sent it to CBI for vetting,” added the ED official.
CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal confirmed the development : “We have received information from ED, and the matter is being looked into.”
Chidambaram declined comment. CBI’s probe into the AircelMaxis case was being monitored by the Supreme Court and the top court sought regular status reports from the anti-corruption agency.
Chidambaram and his son Karthi are under scanner of the CBI and ED in the Aircel-Maxis case.
The CBI is looking into the corruption aspect of the case while ED is probing money laundering charges in the matter.
This case pertains to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) clearance allowing Malaysia-based Maxis Group’s $800 million (Rs 3200 crore) investment in Indian telecom company, Aircel.
The allegation is that the FIPB approval was granted by the former finance minister, P Chidambaram, though he was authorised to approve project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore.
Beyond that he required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
The ED and CBI allege that Karti received kickbacks for facilitating the investment to flow into India from the Maxis group.
Chidambaram has consistently denied the charges.
During the ED raid in January, P Chidambaram had dismissed the action as a “comedy of errors”, claiming that the sleuths found nothing.
CBI filed an FIR in the AircelMaxis case in 2011, alleging that the then telecom minister, Dayanidhi Maran, had arm-twisted C Sivasankaran into selling his company Aircel to the Maxis Group.
In August 2014, CBI filed a charge sheet naming Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran of Sun TV, Malaysian businessman T Ananda Krishnan, Malaysian national Ralph Marshall and four firms, Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd, South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd, Maxis Communication Berhad and ASTRO All Asia Network PLC.
In 2017, the special CBI court discharged the Maran brothers and the Indian companies - Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd and South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd -- in the case.
The agency has challenged the discharge order in the high court.
CBI has said it is now investigating the allegation of irregularity in the FIBP approval.
Last year, the ED also decided to investigate Karthi for his alleged involvement in the FIPB approval.