Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday he had granted approval to the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal, which is currently being investigated by the CBI, "in the normal course of business".
In the Aircel-Maxis case, taking into account the face value of the foreign investment, the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) submitted the case to the Finance Minister and sought approval.
"As FM (Finance Minister), I granted approval (to the Aircel-Maxis deal) in the normal course of business," he said in a statement.
Chidambaram's remarks come a day after the Supreme Court (SC) asked the CBI to file a status report on the probe being carried out into various aspects of the deal.
'CBI Probing All Angles'
During the brief hearing on Monday, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had told the SC bench that he has received a reply from the CBI stating that it was probing “all angles”, including the FIPB clearance given to the deal by Chidambaram in 2006.
Swamy had said the CBI should be asked to file a status report in the case.
In his application, Swamy has alleged that Chidambaram had illegally granted FIPB clearance to the deal in 2006.
He claimed that the former Finance Minister had given FIPB clearance to a deal that should have been referred to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by the Prime Minister, as it alone was empowered to clear foreign investments of over Rs 600 crore.
In his statement on Tuesday, Chidambaram said the FIPB consists of five Secretaries and that they examine cases and recommend approval or rejection.
They "apply the rules/guidelines" and submit each case to the CCEA or the Finance Minister depending upon the value of the investment, he said.
The CBI has recorded the statement of every official who dealt with the case. Everyone, including the then Secretary and Additional Secretary, has affirmed that the case was rightly submitted to the Finance Minister, who was the competent authority to grant approval, and that the approval was granted in the normal course of business.
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