The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday registered a case of money laundering against Karti Chidambaram and INX Media in connection with alleged irregularities in the grant of FIPB approval to the company to get foreign direct investment.
The case filed by ED was under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). It will follow a case of corruption filed by CBI on Monday against Karti and the INX group. Such a case will also open doors for ED to possibly attach assets in the case.
Notably, CBI had registered the case against Karti and INX Media on ED’s reference. The ED is already investigating a company associated with Karti in connection with the Aircel Maxis deal and FDI inflow into Vasan Healthcare. With relation to the INX Media FDI inflow, it had found documents during searches that showed Advantage Strategic Consulting, a company that CBI claimed is indirectly controlled by Karti, was paid Rs 10 lakh as consultancy fees to help it get FIPB approval in 2008. Karti’s father P Chidambaram was then Finance Minister.
The CBI on Tuesday conducted raids at premises linked to Karti and the residence of Peter Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea among 14 locations spread across Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi NCR in connection with the case.
The CBI FIR alleged that INX’s FDI inflow had been initially flagged by FIPB for irregularities and it had sought clarification from the media house. However, after it roped in a company owned by Karti Chidambaram for consultancy, its fresh proposal was approved by FIPB “by virtue of influence exercised over them by Karti P Chidambaram”, the CBI FIR says.
By doing this, the CBI has alleged that the officials “not only ignored the serious illegality on the part of M/S INX Media… but also embarked on showing undue favour to INX Group by abusing their official position”.
In return of the services, CBI has alleged, Karti Chidambaram got a payment of Rs 10 lakh through Advantage Strategic Consulting, “which was controlled by him (Karti) indirectly”. It has also alleged that it found invoices for Rs 3.5 crore in favour of INX Media raised by companies in which Karti has “sustainable interest” and “where there are common directors”.
Denying any wrongdoing, Karti Chidambaram said yesterday: “I am being targeted politically and personally to besmirch the name of my father. They have not seized any documents and cannot prove any charges against me. I have not done anything wrong.”
Reacting to the raids, P Chidambaram, had said: “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.”