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Dhayanidhi Maran- Sun TV in bigger 2G scam?

New Delhi/  Chennai,May31,() Tehelka the news magazine that has earned a reputation for breaking news has in its latest edition revealed a scam that puts A  Raja- Kalaignar TV deal way behind. The magazine reveals a deal by Sun TV Direct  and Sun FM ( owned by Dhayanidhi Maran’s brother) and a Malaysian company that owned Aircel the telecom operator after the then Communication and IT union minister Maran cleared the licenses for the company in 14 circles.” If the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) valuation of 2G licences is taken as a yardstick, the value of Aircel licences cleared by Maran would amount to approximately Rs 22,000 crore. But Aircel paid just Rs 1,399 crore” states the report.

Ashish Khetan traces the money trail with Raman Kirpal in the report. Reproduced are a few excerpts.

According to the report prepared by the one-man committee of Justice (retired) Shivraj Patil constituted to examine the appropriateness of procedures followed by DoT in issuing licenses during the period 2001-2009, the DoT kept raising ‘irrelevant’, ‘vague’ and ‘unwarranted’ queries about different aspects related to Aircel and kept the applications pending (Patil submitted his report to present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on 31 January).

It was only after March 2006, when Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan, whose parents were Sri Lankan Tamils, bought 74 percent stake in Aircel, that its file gained momentum. Until then the company was owned by C Sivasankaran, the chairman of Siva Group (earlier known as Sterling Infotech Group). Krishnan paid Rs 3,390.82 crore for 74 percent equity in Aircel.

And in a curious coincidence, in February 2007, four months after the licenses were granted to Aircel, Ananda Krishnan through one of his group companies, South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd (SAEHL) invested $150 million (roughly Rs 600 crore) in a phased manner in Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd by acquiring 20 percent equity in the company owned and run by Dayanidhi’s brother Kalanidhi and his wife Kaveri Maran. The equity investment was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

Almost simultaneously, the Maran family was allotted about 12.6 crore additional equity shares in Sun Direct TV to maintain their total equity at 80 percent. But unlike the staggering rate at which the Maxis Group picked up the Sun Direct shares, the allotment to the Marans was made at par value of Rs 10 per share without charging any premium.

Between February 2008 and July 2009, the Maxis Group invested Rs 100 crore more in another Maran family-owned company named South Asia FM Ltd which owns Sun FM radio network. Maxis Group subsidiary South Asia Multimedia Technologies Limited (SAMT) invested Rs 50 crore in equity of South Asia FM Ltd and Rs 43.9 crore in preference shares of SAFL.

The million-dollar question is, do Maxis- Sun TV and Maxis-Sun FM deals qualify as quid pro quo on similar lines as the Rs 200 crore Balwa-Kalaignar deal? Both the deals materialized soon after the respective telecom companies were granted the UAS licenses and with it the precious 2G spectrum. And in both the cases it’s the companies owned by the extended Karunanidhi family that benefited.

The entire report  can be read at http://www.tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne040611Coverstory.asp

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