Aircel-Maxis case: Astro All Asia Networks denies allegations
Malaysia’s Astro All Asia Networks Ltd (AAANL), which has been charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Aircel-Maxis case, said it has not been formally intimated nor served with any charge sheet and denied the CBI allegations as baseless.
The firm also said it is taking legal advice on the recent development and will defend any charges that may be levelled against it, its directors and its subsidiaries to the fullest extent possible.
Last week, CBI had charge sheeted former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother, Kalanithi Maran, T Ananda Krishnan and his aide Augustus Ralph Marshall, Sun Direct TV Private Ltd, Astro All Asia Networks and its subsidiary South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Maxis Communications Bhd and former telecom secretary JS Sharma (deceased).
The CBI started investigating the Maran brothers and Krishnan in 2011 after allegations that the former telecom minister had forced the sale of mobile carrier Aircel, allowing Krishnan’s Maxis to acquire a controlling stake in 2006. It was also alleged that as quid pro quo, Astro paid illegal gratification to Dayanidhi Maran through Astro’s investment in Sun Direct at an over value and an investment in South Asia FM Ltd, the firms owned by Kalanithi Maran.
In a statement, Astro said based on CBI’s Press Statement of August 29 2014 and other media reports, it appears that the charge sheet is premised on the CBI’s findings following its investigations into a complaint made by C. Sivasankaran, the promoter of Siva Ventures Limited (SVL) which previously owned Aircel Ltd (Aircel).
“While AAANL has not been formally notified nor served with any charge sheet, AAANL has been advised that there is no basis for the allegations against it. AAANL categorically denies the allegations and considers the allegations to be totally unfounded and baseless,” it added.
Astro also said that both investments were publicly disclosed transactions that were only entered into once all applicable approvals in India and Malaysia were obtained, including that of its shareholders.
Astro also said it is a separate company from Maxis Communications and there are no cross holdings between them and the investments are totally unconnected.
“The CBI’s decision to file charge sheets in these circumstances when investigations are still incomplete violates, amongst others, the principle that investigations must be conducted fairly and thoroughly before reaching any conclusion and also does not accord with the standard of fair and equitable treatment to which AAANL as an investor in India is entitled under international law and India’s treaty obligations,” Astro said.