P Chidambaram on Monday defended his son Karti saying he had never met any officer connected with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), days after the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate filed cases against the former finance minister’s son and INX Media in connection with alleged irregularities in the grant of FIPB approval to the company to get foreign direct investment.
The former Finance Minister said it was “preposterous” to suggest that any member of his family could influence six secretaries of the central government who were part of the FIPB.
Chidambaram said in a statement that he spoke out after “leaks and insinuations” were deliberately fed to a section of the media.
He said he had obtained a copy of the FIR from social media. “The subject matter of the FIR is an approval granted by the FIPB. It is clear that I am the target, yet the FIR does not name me. The FIR alleges there was a conspiracy involving public officials who were induced by corrupt and illegal means to grant the approval, yet the FIR does not name a single public official,” he said.
Chidambaram said the “most ridiculous allegation” was that the “so-called gratification was a cheque for Rs 10 lakhs”.
He said: “I repeat, a cheque for Rs 10 lakhs. (The cheque was in favour of a consulting company that had raised an invoice for work done, accounted for the income, and paid income tax on the amount).”
Chidambaram said he can say with “absolute certainty” that Karti never met any officer connected with the FIPB and had no connection with INX Media/INX News. He said Karti was “never a director or shareholder of M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd” and that company had “on more than one occasion, made it clear that ASCPL is their company and they alone are responsible for the business. They are business friends of Karti Chidambaram,” he said.
The former minister said he was “indignant that some of the most distinguished civil servants of the country have been humiliated by the FIR”. He said, not one secretary, but six secretaries and the FIPB secretariat were being humiliated.
Giving details on the FIPB secretaries, Chidambaran said: “Five of them were among the seniormost IAS officers and the sixth was a senior IFS officer of the Ministry of External Affairs.”
He said the FIPB’s recommendations were submitted to the finance ministry where they were examined by junior officers and then by the additional secretary and the secretary before the file was put before the minister. The FIPB decisions are taken collectively by the six secretaries, not one, he added. “Anyone who has worked with me knows that no one would dare to influence my decisions. I had never allowed any family member to speak to me or to any officer of my ministry on any official matter,” Chidambaram said.