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'Plunge dagger in my heart, don't question integrity'

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CIOL Bureau
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NEW DELHI, INDIA: Stating that neither he or his family had any connection with Aircel or any other telecom company, an emotional Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said: "Plunge a dagger in my heart rather than question my integrity."

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He was giving a clarification in the Rajya Sabha on allegations that his son's company was transferred money, before the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) cleared a proposal from Aircel pertaining to its telecom service venture in 2006.

Also read: PC favored son in Aircel-Maxis deal: Swamy

Chidambaram, who was finance minister at that time, said there were no illegitimate transfers were made to any company involving any of his family members. "Neither I, nor any member of my family has any equity in any telecom company."

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The issue was raised in the upper house by Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley. He did not take any names, but alluded that Oxbridge -- in which Advantage Consultancy, partly owned by Chidambaram's son Karthi -- received money from Aircel.

Seeking to give more details, Kaitley said Maxis, the Malaysian company which acquired shares in Aircel, had declared to Malaysian stock exchange that it acquired more than 99 per cent shares in Aircel.

But the Indian policy permits no more than 74 per cent share to foreign investors in telecom ventures. The money was allegedly transferred by Aircel chief C. Sivasankaran on the eve of FICB clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal.

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The home minister, however, said his "family" had nothing to do with Oxbridge.

"It is true my son had shares in Advantage consultancy. But young men have all the right to a start business. He invested Rs.1.8 lakh in the company, which had another share holder -- Rajesh," the home minister said.

The minister, however, said Karthi had sold his share in the firm to his friend and has no holdings in the company. He further clarified that Advantage took shares in Oxbridge only in 2011, much after the 2006 clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal.

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The leader of opposition questioned how both Oxbridge and Advantage had the same e-mail address in 2006, to which Chidambaram said he was not aware "if they shared the same web address".

"I don't deny that the promoters of Oxbridge and Advantage did know each other. All are doing business in Chennai," he said.

He also said whether or not the Malaysian company gave wrong information to some other country could be examined by the finance ministry. But the FIPB gave its clearance in 2006 for a stake below 74 per cent.

He also dismissed allegations for delaying the process of clearance.

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