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Aircel-Maxis probe stuck in last leg

A team of investigating officials had visited Malaysia to seek information about the Aircel-Maxis deal

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought "financial sanction" from the department of personnel and training in connection with the probe into the Aircel-Maxis deal. The agency had "almost finished" its probe into the matter, which involved Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, an official said.

Last week, in a status report presented before the Supreme Court, had said an aspect of the investigation was yet to be closed, and this involved a "financial burden". A team of investigating officials had visited Malaysia to seek information about the Aircel-Maxis deal. "The agency wants to incur some expenditure outside of India," said a senior CBI official.

CBI, however, didn't disclose the amount it required and to what purpose.

CBI has received replies to many of its queries from Malaysia. Though the agency has substantial information, it is hopeful of securing additional evidence from Malaysian authorities before finalising the charge sheet in the case. Its probe into the has indicated Maxis investments in India breached the permissible limit of foreign direct investments in the telecom sector.

The agency also received information indicating had received kickbacks from Malaysian firm Maxis. It is believed Maxis promoter Ananda Krishnan and the Maran family have known each other for long. Aircel, earlier denied a pan-India telecom licence, was able to enter all circles, following the Maxis takeover, Aircel founder C Sivasankaran had told CBI.

The information sought by CBI from Malaysia includes details of the transactions of Maxis and Aircel, as well as those of companies such as Sun Direct. Following the deal, Astro, also part of Krishnan's media telecom empire, had announced a $160-million investment in Sun Direct for a 20 per cent stake; it had raised its stake in Sun Direct to 35 per cent. Sun Direct is the direct-to-home arm of the Sun group, promoted by Kalanithi Maran, brother of Dayanidhi Maran.

In April 2013, CBI had told the there were "some difficulties" in the probe, as the investigation was being carried out abroad. Recently, a CBI team had visited Malaysia to seek information on the case.

In October 2011, CBI had registered a case against Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanithi Maran, along with Malaysian business tycoon and Maxis owner T Ananda Krishnan and Maxis Director Ralph Marshall. CBI had also named Sun Direct, Astro All Asia Networks, UK, and Maxis, as well as a few officials, as co-accused.

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