A chargesheet against Sun TV Chair Kalanithi Maran, and his brother, former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, over allegations of kickbacks in the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal was not likely anytime soon, a senior Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official told Business Standard.
He added CBI had not been able to secure access to senior executives of Malaysian company Maxis – which had bought a majority stake in Indian telco Aircel in 2006 – for questioning. CBI wants to question Maxis owner and chair, T Ananda Krishnan, but has not been able to make any headway into the matter so far.
Earlier in the day, shares of Sun TV and SpiceJet plunged on media reports that CBI was set to file charges against the Maran brothers.
Sun TV shares tumbled as much as 40 per cent to Rs 176.75 during the day’s trade before paring losses and closing at Rs 261.65, down 11.17 per cent, or Rs 32.90, on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Shares of airline SpiceJet, in which Kalanithi Maran and related promoter groups own a 43.6 per cent stake, fell 10.64 per cent, or Rs 3, to Rs 25.20.
A few months ago, CBI had quizzed Ralph Marshall, chief executive of Astro All Asia Networks and a Maxis board member. An FIR it had filed in October last year had named the Maran brothers, Krishnan and Marshall.
CBI is awaiting a reply to its letter rogatory to Malaysia for probing dealings between Aircel and Maxis, as well as the Maran brothers’ links with Maxis. It is also probing whether Sun TV had received any kickback in the process. In April 2007, Astro, a Maxis subsidiary, had acquired 20 per cent stake in Sun Direct for $166 million (Rs 599 crore). In November 2010, the company invested another Rs 396 crore in Kalanithi Maran’s Kal Media Services and increased its stake in Sun Direct to 35 per cent.
It is learnt CBI would find it difficult to finalise its case against Maxis till it gets a response to its letter rogatory.
In June 2011, founder and former owner of Aircel, C Sivasankaran, had told CBI he had been coerced by then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran into selling his company to Malaysian tycoon Krishnan. Maran has denied the allegations.