New Delhi: The telecom scam, which has injured several A-lister politicians, delivered a new punch today.
Former Union minister Dayanidhi Maran has been accused of criminal conspiracy by the CBI, which is handling the telecom scam. Mr Maran will be investigated under the Prevention of Corruption Act. An FIR or formal complaint has been filed against Mr Maran and his brother, Kalanithi, who owns Sun Networks in Tamil Nadu.
The homes and offices of the Maran brothers in Delhi and Chennai were raided today in connection with the CBI's efforts to prove that when he was telecom minister, Mr Maran misused his office to help an entrepreneur from Malaysia named T Ananda Krishnan acquire one of India's biggest telecoms, Aircel. The CBI says that in return, Mr Ananda Krishnan invested more than Rs 600 crore in Dayanidhi's Sun Networks.
Mr Ananda Krishnan owns the group Maxis. The FIR names him as well as Ralph Marshal, the CEO of Astro, and their homes are being raided too. Three companies are named in the FIR - Maxis, Astro and Sun TV. Astro was used by Mr Ananda Krishnan's group to invest in Sun TV. The CBI has also searched the homes of Suneeta Reddy, the Executive Director of Apollo Hospital. Ms Reddy owns 26 per cent stake in Aircel and has in the past served as Chairperson of the telecom company.
The inquiry against Mr Maran, who is a senior leader of the political party the DMK, stems from a complaint filed against him by the man who used to own Aircel, C Sivasankaran. Mr Maran was Telecom Minister from 2004 to 2007. During this period, Mr Sivasankaran alleges, Mr Maran did not sanction licences critical for Aircel's business. The minister allegedly used this as a pressure tactic to coerce Mr Sivasankaran to sell his company to Mr Ananda Krishnan. Within months of the sale, Mr Maran's ministry delivered 14 licences for Aircel. The CBI has agreed that Mr Maran is guilty of "a deliberate delay" in processing the licences to harass Mr Sivasankaran.
Mr Maran was forced to resign as Union Textiles Minister in July. His party, the DMK, has been singed by the telecom scam. Another senior leader, A Raja, who took over from Mr Maran as Telecom Minister in 2007, is in jail for having engineered the 2gscam. Named for the second-generation (2G frequency involved, the scam centres upon Mr Raja allegedly giving licences and spectrum at throwaway prices to companies he allegedly conspired with. A third senior leader of the DMK - Kanimozhi - is in jail for helping Mr Raja receive a kickback from one of the companies he allegedly favoured. Kanimozhi's father, M Karunanidhi, is the chief of the DMK. His daughter's arrest has reportedly strained his collaboration with the Congress. The DMK is a senior partner in the UPA coalition at the Centre.