Sun TV remains silent, Maran alleges political vendetta 

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Chennai, April 3 (IANS) The Sun TV group continued to maintain a studied silence on Friday over the attachment of assets worth Rs.742.58 crore by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) belonging to Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran, his wife Kaveri Kalanithi and other group companies.

Senior group officials were not available for comments for the second successive day, though it was business as usual at various channels owned by the group.

However, former telecom minister and DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran has termed the ED action as political vendetta.

The impact of the ED action on the Sun TV Network Ltd’s scrip would be known only on Monday when markets open for trading.

On April 1, the Sun TV’s scrip closed at Rs.453.85 in the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Kalanithi Maran owns 75 percent of the Sun TV’s shares.

On Wednesday, the ED announced attachment of assets (moveable and immovable) worth Rs.742.58 crore belonging to the Maran brothers, Kaveri Kalanithi and group companies in connection with the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

Dayanidhi Maran said the assets belonging to him that were attached by the ED were acquired long before the alleged crime.

According to Dayanidhi Maran, foreign investments in an Indian company could be made only with the approval of the central government.

He claimed the Aircel-Maxis deal was above the board.

The former telecom minister claimed that he would fight the case and win.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has alleged that Dayanidhi Maran used his influence to help Malaysian businessmen T. Ananda Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner C. Sivasankaran to part with his stake.

Sivasankaran alleged that Dayanidhi Maran favoured the Maxis Group in the takeover of his company. He also alleged that the company made investments through Astro Network in a firm stated to be owned by the Maran family.

Four companies – Chennai-based Sun Direct TV, Britain-based Astro All Asia Networks, Maxis Communications Berhad of Malaysia and the South Asia Entertainment Holdings of Mauritius – have also been named in charges filed on August 29, 2014 by the CBI.

The CBI said there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the accused.

It has booked all the accused on charges of criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On Wednesday, the ED said its investigations revealed that illegal gratification of Rs.742.58 crore was paid by the companies based in Mauritius for Dayanidhi Maran in the two companies, namely Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd. (SDTPL) and South Asia FM Ltd. (SAFL).

These two companies are owned and controlled by Kalanithi Maran. The money has been utilised by the companies in their business or investments, the ED said.

“The offence of money laundering under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is being investigated in respect of offences punishable under Section 120-B of the IPC read with Sections 7, 12 and Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which are scheduled offences under PMLA and is punishable under Section 4 of the act,” it said.

The CBI has filed a chargesheet against the Maran brothers and their companies, including foreign firms.

So, the attachment of the illegal gratification by Dayanidhi Maran has been done thereafter, as per provisions of the PMLA, the ED said.

The investigation under the PMLA revealed that promoters of SDTPL were Kalanithi Maran his wife Kaveri Kalanithi, the ED said.

These two people are holding 80 percent shares of the SDTPL.

The shareholders of the SAFL are Sun TV Network Ltd. (60 percent) and 20 percent each are with A.H. Multisoft Pvt. Ltd. and South Asia Multimedia Technologies Ltd., Mauritius.

Kalanithi Maran and Kaveri Kalanithi are having 90 percent and 10 percent shareholding respectively in Kal Comm Pvt. Ltd., the ED said.

According to the ED, the following properties were attached under Section 5(1) of the PMLA:

1. Fixed deposits held by Dayanidhi Maran and others – Rs.7.47 crore.
2. Fixed deposits held by SDTPL – Rs.31.34 crore.
3. Fixed deposits held by SAFL – Rs.6.19 crore.
4. Mutual funds held by SAFL – Rs.15.14 crore.
5. Fixed deposit held by Kalanithi Maran – Rs.100 crore.
6. Mutual funds held by Kalanithi Maran – Rs.2.78 crore.
7. Fixed deposit held by Kaveri Kalanithi – Rs.1.3 crore.
8. Mutual funds held by Kaveri Kalanithi – Rs.1.78 crore.
9. Land and building owned by Kal Comm Private Limited – Rs.171.55 crore.
10. Free-hold land and building owned by Sun Network TV Pvt. Ltd. – Rs.266 crore.
11. Shares of SDTPL held by Kalanithi Maran – Rs.139 crore.

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