The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday attached properties worth Rs 742.58 crore belonging to former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, brother Kalanithi and other family members in a money-laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal.
Among the 11 assets attached in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu are buildings, land parcels, mutual funds, and fixed deposits held by the powerful Maran brothers and Kalanithi's wife Kaveri, ED sources said.
Dayanidhi, as telecom minister, is accused of coercing Chennai-based entrepreneur C Sivasankaran into selling his stake in Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis in 2006. The CBI filed a charge sheet in the case in 2014.
One of the fixed deposits held by Kalanithi, who is the managing director of the influential Sun TV, is worth R100 crore. Fixed deposits held by Dayanidhi and others amount to Rs 7.47 crore, ED sources said.
The attachment order was issued under the provisions of the prevention of money laundering act (PMLA). An attachment under PMLA can be challenged within 120 days. It is aimed at depriving the accused from benefitting from ill-gotten wealth.
"The attachment issued by the ED is in respect of the offence of money-laundering relating to the illegal gratification amounting to Rs 742.58 crores received by Dayanidhi Maran in the Aircel-Maxis deal," an ED source said.
The enforcement directorate tracks money-laundering and investigates foreign exchange violations.
According to the ED source, the action was linked to the "proceeds of crime" allegedly received by the two brothers. The value of attached assets was equal to the amount allegedly received as bribe, the source said.
A separate CBI probe revealed suspected financial transactions wherein a UK-based subsidiary of Maxis purchased shares of Sun Direct Pvt Ltd, owned by the Marans, at a hefty premium of Rs 629 crore.
An official order said "illegal gratification of Rs 742.58 crore was paid by the companies based in Mauritius for Dayanidhi in the two companies namely Ms Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd and Ms South Asia FM Ltd". The two companies are owned and controlled by Kalanithi.
"The money has been utilised by the companies in their business or investments," said the source. The CBI charge sheet accuses the two brothers, their firms and others of corruption and criminal conspiracy.