Subramanian Swamy faces defamation suit over Aircel allegations

Subramanian Swamy faces defamation suit over Aircel allegations
New Delhi:  A company based in Chennai, partly owned by the Home Minister's son, Karti, has decided to sue Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy for defamation.

Mr Swamy alleged publicly yesterday that union minister P Chidambaram's son, Karti, owns a large part of this company, and that it benefited in 2006 from his father's position as Finance Minister to earn huge profits during the sale of telecom Aircel.

Mr Swamy responded today by saying, "A company can't sue me ...the allegations are against Karti."

In a three-page letter dated April 24 to the Prime Minister, Mr Swamy had said that Mr Chidambaram should be asked to resign as Home Minister and that the CBI should include the minister and his son, in its investigation on the sale of telecom Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis.

Mr Swamy says that in 2005, telecom company Aircel was verging on bankruptcy. Its then owner, C Sivasankaran, was approached by Maxis, which wanted to pick up 74% stake in Aircel for nearly Rs. 4,000 crore, according to Mr Swamy. He says that this deal needed clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which was headed by Mr Chidambaram.

Mr Swamy alleges that Karti Chidambaram owned 94% equity in a company named Ausbridge Holding and Investments Pvt.  Before the Aircel deal was sanctioned, he claims, this firm bought shares in the holding company for Aircel, named  Advantage Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd. After his father cleared Maxis' purchase of Aircel, Mr Swamy alleges, Karti Chidambaram made considerable profits, though he did not specify how much.

Stake-holders in Advantage say Mr Swamy has distorted the facts. They say that in 2006, their firm did not buy stake in Aircel, either directly or indirectly. Instead, they claim, Advantage provided services to Aircel for which their firm was paid 25 lakhs. It was towards the end of 2010, they claim, that Karti Chidambaram's Ausbridge Holdings bought equity in Advantage. They maintain that Advantage has no stake - then or now - in Aircel.

The Aircel-Maxis deal is already being studied on different grounds by the CBI. Then Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, is being investigated for allegedly misusing his office.

Mr Sivasankaran has alleged that licenses vital for his business were held up by Mr Maran, who was allegedly pressuring him to sell Aircel to the owner of Maxis, T Ananda Krishnan. After Mr Sivasankaran sold Aircel to Maxis, the licenses he had applied for were granted. The CBI is checking whether Rs 600 crore invested by Maxis in Sun Direct, owned by Mr Maran's brother, Kalanidhi, was a quid pro quo.

Mr Swamy, who is the Janata Party president, was turned down in February by a Delhi court when he asked that Mr Chidambaram be investigated by the CBI for his role as Finance Minister during another telecom scam in 2008 - this one allegedly orchestrated by A Raja, who took over from Mr Maran as telecom minister in 2004. Mr Raja is in jail for awarding mobile network licenses at clearance prices to ineligible companies - he threw in spectrum for free. Mr Swamy says that as Finance Minister, Mr Chidambaram failed to prevent Mr Raja from gypping the country of thousands of crores, and that he sanctioned the low prices fixed by Mr Raja.

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