Telecom graft: Karti’s alleged role in getting clearance for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father was FM under probe

New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday charged Congress leader P Chidambaram (pictured) with abuse of power in a multi-billion dollar scandal when he was finance minister.
Chidambaram confirmed the charge and said he would “vigorously” contest the case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) anti-corruption watchdog.
The CBI accused the former minister of abusing power in allowing foreign investment by Malaysian group Maxis in telecom company Aircel in 2006.
Chidambaram, a senior leader of the opposition Congress party, said in a tweet, “CBI has been pressured to file a charge sheet to support a preposterous allegation against me and officers with a sterling reputation.”
“The case is now before the Hon’ble Court and it will be contested vigorously. I shall make no more public comment.”
The CBI has alleged that Chidambaram approved the half billion dollar Aircel-Maxis deal when it should have been referred to a cabinet committee.
The charge came one day before an opposition no-confidence vote in parliament against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We have filed a charge sheet in Aircel-Maxis case naming 18 persons, including P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram,” a CBI official said. The charge sheet also named two companies — Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL) and Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd (CMSPL) — under various provisions.
On August 29, 2014, the CBI had filed a charge sheet in the case alleging that between July 2004 and September 2008, Dayanidhi Maran, as Minister in the UPA-I government, used his influence to help Malaysian businessman T A Ananda Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake.
Sivasankaran alleged that Maran favoured the Krishnan-owned Maxis Group in the takeover of his company. In return, he alleged, Maxis made investments through Astro Network, a sister concern, in Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL), stated to be owned by the Maran family.
However, a special court had dropped charges against former Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi and others in the alleged kickback of Rs 742 crore in the Aircel-Maxis deal, saying that the “perception or suspicion” was not backed by concrete evidence.
Chidambaram served twice as finance minister and also as home minister in the Congress-led coalition which was defeated by Modi’s nationalist party in 2014.
Congress officials have been hit by a string of corruption scandals dating from their time in government.
— Agencies