Special Court Discharges All Accused In Aircel-Maxis Deal

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Chennai: Former union minister Dayanaidhi Maran will not be tried for alleged corruption, a Delhi judge ruled today in what is known as the Aircel-Maxis case. Mr Maran had been accused by investigating agencies of forcing the owner of telecom Aircel to sell the firm to a Malaysian company which allegedly paid Mr Maran a huge kickback as thanks.

In 2014, the CBI filed charges against Mr Maran, his media mogul brother Kalanithi Maran and T Ananda Krishana, a Malaysian tycoon, for colluding to allow Maxis take control of Aircel, a Chennai-based company owned at the time by C Sivasankaran. He has alleged that as Telecom Minister, Mr Maran withheld crucial permissions and clearances as a pressure tactic till he sold the telecom to Maxis in 2006.

The CBI says that after the transaction, 700 crores was routed “as illegal gratification” to the Marans, in part through the Sun Group, which runs a media business including television channels and satellite TV services, and is headed by the minister’s billionaire brother in Chennai. The charges against the Marans and the Maxis owner included criminal conspiracy. A separate case of money-laundering was filed against them by the Enforcement Directorate, which handles financial crimes. The Marans and Mr Ananda Krishnan have denied the allegations.

Mr Maran was Telecom Minister between 2004 and 2007; he was replaced in Dr Manmohan Singh’s cabinet by A Raja, also from the DMK, who has been charged as the architect of another huge telecom swindle – “the 2G scam”. Investigators say he accepted large bribes for allotting out-of-turn licenses to firms, while throwing in valuable spectrum or second-wave airwaves for free.

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