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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2614

A decision from the past comes to haunt Chidambaram

By Malladi Rama Rao
New Delhi, 22 September, (Asiantribune.com):

A decision from the past when he was India’s finance minister has surfaced to haunt Palaniappan Chidambaram as India’s premier investigating agency, CBI becomes the proverbial bull in a China shop.

The case has acquired added political flavour as it involves the Maran brothers, who have fallen on bad days.

On his part, Chidambaram has asserted that he did no wrong and the approval about which the CBI has raised a question, was given in the normal course after receiving a recommendation from the administrative secretary concerned.

The approval had facilitated an investment of $800 million in Aircel by Maxis subsidiary Global Communications Services Holdings Ltd in 2006. The Maxis-Aircel merger that took place subsequently is under the CBI investigation.

The CBI case is that Finance Minister is not competent to approve such investment. Instead it was a proposal fit under the rules to go before the Cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA). Investment proposals above Rs 600 crore need CCEA clearance, which was not obtained in the present instance.

So, says the probe agency, it is investigating the “circumstances” of the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval granted by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in connection with the Aircel- Maxis deal.

The former minister, who is back to his legal practice since the Congress was voted out, has rejected the CBI contention.

“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 (Department of Economic Affairs). Both of them recommended the case for approval. Approval was granted by me, as Finance Minister, in the normal course,” he said in a statement.

He added as if for emphasis, “I am sure the files will bear out the correctness of this position.”

Latest twist in the story is that the CBI chief had given the go ahead for probe into Chidambaram angle in the Aircel-Maxis deal when the Congress –led UPA government was on its last leg with elections for the Lok Sabha in full swing. His son Karti was also brought into the ambit of probe on the ground that Karti had dealings with Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd. And this company finds a mention in the scam involving the Maran brothers – Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi, and Aircel- Maxis deal.

It is said that maverick politician Dr Subramanian Swamy, who is a leading light of the BJP these days, has brought on record these allegations

Besides the Maran brothers the CBI has chargesheeted Malaysian business tycoon 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 on August 29.

According to CBI, Dayanidhi Maran as Communications Minister in UPA-1 had abused his position to help Krishnan acquire Aircel by “coercing” its owner C Sivasankaran to part with his stake.

- Asian Tribune ¬-

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