The shenanigans of the rich and the powerful as they go about securing what they want is not news to many Indians. But what should worry is more the way our investigative agencies are performing. The courts can only do their job if the police and the Central Bureau of Investigation perform their jobs efficiently and without fear or favour. But alas! here there is ample cause for depression and anger. Monday’s order may have delighted anti-corruption activists but that is misplaced. Just take a look at what the CBI has been doing and it is clear that the battle against crony capitalism is far from being won.
A reputational problem and this is not due to incompetence and leadership issues. Powerful investors are getting increasingly wary of conglomerates and big companies with deep connections to the political establishment and for the right reasons. At one point in our history, connections to the political establishment mattered a lot and was coveted but is increasingly seen as anachronistic and medieval in a new, aspirational India. There is widespread perception that companies in certain regulated sectors have made money due to connections and their ability to get concessions and decisions in their favour than any operational and business acumen.
The charges against , Krishnan and his aide include criminal conspiracy, the CBI said. Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Maxis Communications Bhd , South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd – all part of Ananda Krishnan’s business empire – and Sun Group’s Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd have also been named in the police charge sheet.Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan over the 2006 sale of Indian phone company Aircel to Malaysian telecoms firm Maxis.Even before the scandal, investors had been scared off from an industry whose rock-bottom tariffs have been a boon to customers but have squeezed margins for operators..A spokeswoman for Maxis said she could not immediately comment
Arrogance of Malaysia’s second-richest man T. Ananda Krishnan
South Indian politician Dayanidhi Maran, who was India’s telecommunications minister between 2004 and 2007; his brother billionaire Kalanithi Maran; Malaysia’s second-richest man T. Ananda Krishnan and his aide Augustus Ralph Marshall, are among those named in the charge sheet filed in a New Delhi court on Friday, a police spokeswoman said.
The case is separate from a massive scandal that a state auditor said had lost the government about $29 billion during a 2008 telecoms permits sale process. Another former telecoms minister and several company executives are among the accused in an ongoing trial over that case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s top crime-fighting agency, started investigating the Maran brothers and Krishnan in 2011 after allegations that the telecoms minister had forced the sale of mobile carrier Aircel, allowing Krishnan’s Maxis to acquire a controlling stake in 2006.
“The investigation revealed that the then (telecoms minister) had allegedly abused (his) official position and constricted the business environment of Chennai-based private firm on frivolous grounds with an intent to force its exit from telecom business and its sale to Malaysia-based company,” the CBI said in a statement on Friday.
Companies controlled by billionaire Kalanithi Maran’s Sun Group, which runs a media business including television channels and satellite TV services, had received “illegal gratification” totaling about 7.42 billion rupees ($123 million), the CBI said. About 5.49 billion rupees of it was “in the garb of” the premium paid for the purchase of a stake in a Sun Group company, the agency said.
The charges against the Marans, Krishnan and his aide include criminal conspiracy, the CBI said. Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Maxis Communications Bhd , South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd – all part of Ananda Krishnan’s business empire – and Sun Group’s Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd have also been named in the police charge sheet.
A spokeswoman for Maxis said she could not immediately comment. A Sun Group spokesman also declined comment. Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanithi Maran could not be immediately reached for a comment.
Dayanidhi Maran has previously denied any wrongdoing. Maxis had said in October 2011 that it was co-operating with the probe and was confident that the allegations against it would prove to be “unfounded and without basis.”