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CBI set to probe chairman of airport economic authority

The CBI has informed the Malaysian authorities that the Malaysian AG’s chamber has interpreted the dual criminality.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought government permission to investigate Yashwant Bhave,the chairman of airport economic regulatory authority,and a former additional secretary in the telecom ministry in connection with the Aircel-Maxis investigation.

On July 30,the agency sought permission from the ministry of civil aviation to investigate Bhave under Section 6A of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act,since he is a serving officer above the rank of joint secretary.

The agency is understood to have informed the Supreme Court about the requirement of examining Bhave’s role in connection with the allegations by the erstwhile promoter of Aircel telecommunication,C Sivasankaran that he was coerced into selling his stakes to Maxis Communication by the then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran.

The CBI also informed the Supreme Court,which is monitoring the investigation,that a chartered accountant and BOB Capital Markets Pvt Ltd,a subsidiary of Bank of Baroda,have been engaged by the agency for the case and will submit their findings within a month.

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The genesis of the controversy began with Sivasankaran alleging that Maran coerced him into selling his telecom company Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis before awarding Aircel 14 telecom licences. In an alleged quid pro quo,Maxis,through Astro All Asia Plc made an investment of approximately Rs 600 crore in Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd owned by Dayanidhi Maran’s brother Kalanidhi Maran.

The brief given to the financial experts is to conduct forensic accounting of the bank accounts of Sun Direct to ascertain diversion of funds,whether the transfer of Rs 100 crore from Sun Direct to Sun TV Network is genuine and check the authenticity of the business plan and the market projection in share valuation of Sun Direct.

A major hurdle in the investigation has been that the Letter of Rogatory (LR) sent on April 2012 to Malaysia seeking information has not yet been honored by the authorities there. The Attorney General of Malaysia had previously turned down the request on two counts that clarification provided by CBI to queries raised by Malaysia’s AG office were not satisfactory and the request does not satisfy the conditions of dual criminality.

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The CBI has informed the Malaysian authorities that the Malaysian AG’s chamber has interpreted the dual criminality aspect in the light of extradition requests and cited case laws pertaining to extradition cases,while the present request is for investigation and collection of documents and statement of persons.

On July 25,2013,the CBI had forwarded to home ministry a fresh request for LR to Malaysia to honour the earlier LR. Also,the CBI has been working through Interpol to expedite earlier LRs sent to Mauritius,Bermuda,UK and Northern Ireland.

The CBI has also informed the court that lack of response on its LR has been a hurdle in investigating allegation by Subramanian Swamy that Karti Chidambaram,son of finance minister P Chidambaram,benefited through his subsidiary companies in obtaining sizeable shares in the equity of Global Communications,Mauritius. It is believed to have told the court that allegations about Karti are not been investigated in view of pendency of LR at Mauritius.

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CBI gave a detailed break up of list of 25 government officials,bankers,Aircel and Maxis officials and the aspects of questioning by the agency in connection with the allegations made by Swamy.

First published on: 13-09-2013 at 01:22:23 am
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