Armed with a favourable verdict from an international tribunal, Maxis Communications has approached the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to deny the coercion allegation in its 2006 acquisition of Aircel Ltd and submitted evidence and clarifications to claim that there were no grounds for an FIR against it.
Aircel was then owned by C Sivasankaran.
The CBI is investigating the case based on the FIR that alleges that the sale of companies by Sivasankaran was a result of coercion by Maxis, former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanidhi.
It also alleges that illegal gratification was paid in the form of subscription for shares by Astro All Asia Networks in Kalanidhi’s Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd beyond the genuine price. Even Astro Networks has written to the investigation agency to say that the deal was bonafide, based on accurate valuation of Sun TV as per RBI norms.
On January 13, 2012, the Maxis counsel wrote a letter to CBI director AP Singh to “voluntarily clarify” allegations in the FIR and to justify that the Maxis-Aircel deal was a genuine commercial transaction. The letter was a follow-up of an October 10, 2011, missive from Maxis that detailed the September 29, 2011, award of the international tribunal in Singapore, which dismissed “upside payment” claims of Sivasankaran and ordered him to cough up $7.9 million as legal fees incurred by his opponents.
Describing the deal, the letter stated: “Though Siva initially wanted to exit (Aircel) completely only after the IPO, he agreed to exit entirely immediately while still retaining the benefit of a potential upside for 26% through an IPO… Siva himself chose the option to exit entirely for $800 million with an upside on 26% and, as he mentioned in one of his mails (November 6, 2005), he was taking a punt because he was letting go of the additional $100 million.”
The Maxis letter makes it evident that the coercion theory was made up so that Maxis is forced to pay $100 million, as the IPO did not take place within the stipulated three years. Moving the international tribunal in November 2009, Maxis informed the CBI director that Siva claimed substantial damages.
“His (Siva’s) experts valued his IPO upside payments in the range of $250 million to $ 423 million and his non-IPO upside payment in the range of $145.62 million to $315.92 million. All these and other claims of damages of any kind were totally rejected by the arbitration tribunal,” the letter stated.
It is understood that even Dayanidhi Maran has written to CBI to deny charges of favourism to Maxis.