The CBI early Tuesday morning conducted raids at at least fourteen locations across Chennai including the residence of former Union minister P Chidambaram. The CBI searches are in connection with foreign investments received by INX Media, formerly owned by Peter Mukerjea. The former minister has said there were no allegations against him and this was a move by the government to silence his voice.
A CBI team is also present at the residence of P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram and searches are underway at locations in Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram.
CBI searches in Mum,Delhi,Gurugram, Chennai& residence of Karti Chidambaram for alleged misconduct in grant of FIPB approval @IndianExpress
— Khushboo Narayan (@khushboo_n) May 16, 2017
In a statement issued, P Chidambaram said:
“FIPB approval is granted in hundreds of cases. The five Secretaries who constitute the FIPB, the officials of the FIPB Secretariat and the competent authority in each case are the public officials. There is no allegation against any of them. There is no allegation against me.
Every case was processed according to law and approval was granted or refused in accordance with the recommendations of the FIPB consisting of five Secretaries of the Government of India.
The government, using the CBI and other agencies, is targeting my son and his friends. The government’s aim is to silence my voice and stop me from writing, as it has tried to do in the cases of leaders of Opposition parties, journalists, columnists, NGOs, and civil society organisations. All I will say is, I shall continue to speak and write.”
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On Monday, according to news channel NDTV, the investigation agency registered an FIR against Karti Chidambaram in connection with the case and are currently probing the role of senior finance ministry officials in granting permissions to INX Media. Karti allegedly facilitated investments worth Rs 305 crore received by the media company. He allegedly took kickbacks to the tune of over Rs 3 crore in connection with the deal, the channel reported. The agency also registered the case against INX Media through its director Indrani Mukerjea, Peter Mukerjea, Karti Chidambaram, Chess Management Services (a company of Karti), Advantage Strategic Consulting Limited through its Director Padma Vishwanathan.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, speaking to news channels, said: “What have you been doing for three years? If there were serious charges, go ahead. If you have evidence, establish it. You are destroying reputations. The people of India are watching this. You are still trying to fish and find out.”
In April this year, the Enforcement Directorate issued a show-cause notice to Karti Chidambaram and a firm purportedly linked to him for alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The violation is reportedly to the tune of Rs 45 crore. The agency had issued a similar notice to Chennai-based M/s Vasan Health Care Private Limited for alleged FEMA violation of more than Rs 2,100 crore.
The ED had then said it was also probing P Chidambaram for granting an FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis case.
In a statement issued then, Chidambaram had said: “The Enforcement Directorate has the habit of recycling allegations from time to time. Today’s press release by the ED is another example. The allegations in the press release are baseless, totally false and ridiculous.”