We have no control over parent firm Maxis, Aircel says

ananda'NEW DELHI: Aircel, in which Malaysia’s Maxis has a majority stake, has told the Supreme Court it has no control over either Maxis or Maxis’ operator T Ananda Krishnan.

In applying to the Supreme Court against going ahead with its threat to shut down Aircel’s operations if Maxis and Ananda Krishnan did not present themselves before the court, Aircel said it should not be punished for the faults of others, according to a report in the Times of India.

Maxis Communications Berhad, Ananda Krishnan and associate Ralph Marshall have been named in a chargesheet, along with former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, in what has come to be known as the Aircel-Maxis scam.

Maran is alleged to have forced Aircel owner C Sivasankaran to sell his majority stake to the Maxis group. Immediately after Maxis secured a majority stake in Aircel, it was granted a 2G licence in November 2006.

Maxis, Ananda Krishnan and Marshall have not presented themselves to a special court hearing the case, with prosecutors alleging that they had refused to respond to repeated summonses issued against them. Last year, the special court issued arrest warrants against the duo.
The Supreme Court, on Jan 6, asked the government to frame modalities for the transfer of the spectrum licence from Aircel to another telecom operator if the accused failed to submit themselves to the Indian courts, said the report.

“He (Krishnan) must come to India and present himself before the court if he is using the national assets (2G spectrum). We will not tolerate him enjoying the assets of the nation and run away from the law of the country…We want to secure his presence before us. We want to give him full opportunity to present his side,” the court had said.

The Times of India report said fearing the court might pass an order affecting its telecoms operation, Aircel went to the Supreme Court to plead its case.

Aircel admitted that Maxis held a 73.99% stake in it. However, it said, according to the Times of India report, “The applicants cannot possibly exercise any control over the accused persons or the entities directed to appear before this court.”

Aircel blamed India’s central bureau of investigations for not serving the summons successfully to Maxis and the Malaysians in accordance with the law and that was the reason they had failed to respond to the trial court’s order.

It also said Ananda Krishnan had no direct interest in Maxis and was “only having a deemed indirect interest”.

The report said Aircel pleaded with the court not to issue any adverse order against it as it was itself not an accused in the scam.

Aircel also refuted the allegation that it was trying to wind up its operations in India and was selling its assets to other telecoms companies. Rather, it said, its recent actions were aimed at acquiring assets.

“A misleading impression appears to have been created that there is an attempt to liquidate its assets and move funds from India. The correct position is precisely the contrary,” it said.

It said it had made huge investments in India and had yet to profit from it. And, therefore, if it were to close down now, it would be unable to repay the debts it had accrued.

“The smooth operations of the company is imperative in the interest of, among others, a consortium of banks, financiers, service suppliers, vendors, retailers and employees,” it said in its application to the Supreme Court.