SFIO probe against Aircel orders Government

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The government has ordered a probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) against distressed telecom operator Aircel and its arms Aircel Cellular and Dishnetafter receiving several complaints against operations of the former.

The ministry of corporate affairs ordered the probe on Tuesday based on a recommendation from the Registrar of Companies in Mumbai, sources told TOI. Before ordering an SFIO investigation, the ministry usually does a preliminary check to see if the concern is genuine or not.

This is the latest trouble for Aircel, where former FM P Chidambaram’s son Karti is being investigated for allegedly helping the company obtain government approvals. During his stint as FM, Chidambaram senior is accused of giving FDI related clearances in the Aircel-Maxis cases, although the power for high-value loans was with the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs.

Earlier this year, Aircel had approached NCLT and sought initiation of bankruptcy proceedings. Among the charges that may be looked into are possible diversion of funds and other violations related to the Companies Act and other laws governing the company. The company owes close to Rs 50,000 crore to lenders and other creditors.

In April, Aircel founder C Sivasankaran, 11 companies related to him, and several IDBI Bank executives and directors were booked by CBI in case related to a loan default. The case had triggered protests in banking circles with many crying foul over the investigative agency filing cases against independent directors.

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