More woes for Maxis in India

ananda'NEW DELHI: The man who sold Aircel to Maxis Communications Bhd has petitioned India’s Supreme Court to restrain Maxis from transferring its 2G airwaves licence.

The former owner of Aircel, C Sivasankaran, believes this will force T Ananda Krishnan, the man behind Maxis, and former Maxis director Ralph Marshall, to attend court over a graft case.

Maxis owns 74% of Aircel Ltd’s equity.

Ananda Krishnan, Marshall, Maxis Communications and Astro All Asia Networks were named in an October 2014 chargesheet against former telecoms minister Dayanidhi Maran, who has been accused of alleged improprieties in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The trial court last year issued warrants of arrest against the Malaysians.

Maran has denied the charges, and Maxis has, in statements, said all its dealings in India were done according to the law.

Sivasankaran’s action is seen as attempting to throw a spanner in the works of an impending deal between Aircel and Reliance Communications.

It was earlier reported that, in the biggest consolidation deal in the telecoms sector, Reliance Communications Ltd and Aircel had agreed to merge their business.

The Supreme Court said on Jan 6 that all earnings of spectrum granted to Aircel in 2006 shall be restrained and that the prohibition shall become enforceable if Ananda Krishnan and Marshall failed to appear before the trial court in two weeks.

Sivasankaran had alleged that he was forced to sell his stake to Maxis by Maran as part of a quid pro quo in the form of bribes in 2006.

The Economic Times of India reported that Sivasankaran was also seeking, in his application, to be made a party to the case.

It said Sivasankaran had requested the Supreme Court to restrain any contract or arrangement involving the transfer of interests between Aircel and a third party until the trial court could proceed with prosecution.

Sivasankaran said he was an “original complainant before the Central Bureau of Investigation and also arrayed as one of the prosecution witnesses and is necessary party for the effective hearing and disposal of the present civil appeal”.

The Economic Times said it had has seen a copy of the petition and that Sivasankaran confirmed the plea had been filed but had declined to comment further.

The report said, in his plea, Sivasankaran claimed he had been unable to recover losses incurred due to the deal and that the accused were now trying to sell their shares in Aircel by merging with Reliance Communications.

He said the executives were devising strategies for completely washing off their financial or other proprietary interests in Aircel Ltd as a “means of evading or keeping out of (the) net of prosecution”.

Last week, Aircel filed an application pleading to be a party to the case and urging the court not to pass the proposed order.

The next hearing in this matter is on Feb 3, according to the Economic Times report.