NEW DELHI, April 15 — Four countries including Malaysia were sent letters of requests by India asking them to provide financial documents related to Maxis Berhad’s acquisition of Indian telco Aircel, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported today.
The formal requests were made by a special Indian court following an application by the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). These were also sent out to Bermuda, Mauritius, and the United Kingdom.
Indian investigators are probing the acquisition of Aircel by Maxis for elements of graft, after former telecommunications minister Dayanidhi Maran was accused of receiving illegal gratification in return for causing Aircel’s owner, C. Sivasankaran, to sell a 74 per cent stake to Maxis.
The CBI previously said that “undue favours” were given following the acquisition.
“An illegal gratification of Rs549,96,01,793 (RM328 million) was accepted as a quid pro quo through his brother Kalanithi Maran in the garb of share premium invested in Sun Direct TV by South Asia Entertainment Holdings (a fully-owned subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks Plc.),” it reportedly said.
Maxis previously insisted its RM2.5 billion purchase of 74 per cent of Aircel from Sivasankaran was on a willing-buyer, willing seller basis and said Sivasankaran retained 26 per cent of Aircel to gain “upside benefits” should Aircel be floated.
The telecommunications giant said that Sivasankaran only complained to the CBI after his claims were dismissed by international arbitrators earlier this year, more than five years after the deal was done on December 30, 2005.
Astro told the CBI that its purchase of 20 per cent of Sun TV was a legitimate transaction between two long-standing business partners who have had dealings since 1996.