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Govt to look into Aircel-Maxis deal

Ministry of Home Affairs finds Saudi Telecom equity in Maxis after Subramanian Swamy's complaint

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The department of economic affairs is likely to look into a complaint from Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on an alleged security threat posed by Saudi Telecom’s holding in Aircel or Maxis Communications Berhad, which holds 74 per cent in the Chennai-based telecom operator.

An investigation by the home ministry (findings dated November 22) into his complaint revealed Saudi Telecom had 25 per cent stake in Maxis Berhad, 64 per cent of which was with Maxis Communications Berhad.

In a communication dated February 20, the department said necessary action should be taken based on the ministry’s findings and a July 31 letter of the Central Bureau of Investigation last year, following Swamy’s complaint on July 10.

Public Investment Fund, Ministry of Finance, Saudi Arabia, owns 70 per cent in Saudi Telecom, which was said to have plans to increase its stake to 35 per cent, the ministry noted in its findings citing information available publicly.

The matter has been discussed at various ministries and the Supreme Court since Swamy filed his complaint. Last year, the apex court had asked the government to take steps on Swamy’s letter to the Prime Minister raising concerns about national security.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board cleared the investment of Maxis in Aircel in March 2006, when P Chidambaram was the finance minister.

Aircel did not comment on the issue.

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First Published: Wed, March 05 2014. 00:44 IST