The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Thursday named Congress leader P Chidambaram in a prosecution complaint in the Aircel-Maxis case. It accused him of granting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval illegally to a Mauritius-based firm while he was Union Finance Minister to allegedly help his son’s company.
The complaint, filed in a Delhi court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, also named S Bhaskarraman, chartered accountant of Chidambaram’s son Karti; V Srinivasan; Malaysia resident Augustus Ralph Marshall, Aircel Televentures Ltd; Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Malaysia; Maxis Mobile Sdn Bhd, Malaysia; Bumi Armada Berhad, Malaysia and Bumi Armada Navigation Sdn Bhd.
An ED statement said the accused have been charged with “the offence of money laundering of Rs 1.16 crore in lieu of the illegal FIPB approval by Sh P Chidambaram in March, 2006 given to the foreign investor, Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited, Mauritius (wholly owned subsidiary of Maxis Berhad, Malaysia) in violation of the various Rules and Regulations governing the FDI policy in India”.
Responding to the complaint, Chidambaram said: “CBI has already filed a Chargesheet in the Aircel-Maxis case. ED has now filed a Complaint in the same case. If and when summons is issued by the Honourable Court, the cases will be contested. I will not make any other public comment.”
Special Judge O P Saini fixed November 26 for consideration of the complaint.
According to the ED complaint, under the rules and FDI policy in 2006, Chidambaram was empowered to grant approval to proposals for foreign investment not more than Rs 600 crore. The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited, Mauritius, was of USD 800 Million i.e. Rs 3,560 crore (calculated at 1 USD = Rs 44.5), the ED said.
“As per Policy and Rules, proposal of GCSHL should have been referred to Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) but it was not referred and was approved by P Chidambaram,” the ED said. In the complaint, the ED said that this violated provisions of two office memorandum, one issued in July 1996 by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and another issued in February 2003 by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance and Company Affairs.
The ED claimed it had enough evidence to prosecute Chidambaram. “These evidences are in the form of emails communication retrieved from the seized digital devices from Sh Karti P Chidambaram and his associates. The material evidences inter-alia, reveal routing of proceeds of crime in the guise of bonafide business deals by the beneficiaries of illegal FIPB approval in the companies of Sh Karti P Chidambaram. ED investigation has revealed the financial linkage of Sh Karti P Chidambaram and Sh P Chidambaram with these companies,” its statement said.
The ED told the court it had filed voluminous records including records collected from the Ministry of Finance, other government organisations and documents seized during searches conducted by the ED.
“ED investigation will continue as per disposal of the application filed by the Directorate before the Special Court of PMLA concerning with the cancellation of anticipatory bail of Karti P Chidambaram and applications filed by Karti P Chidambaram and P Chidambaram. The investigation by ED will also continue relating to new facts which are pending for investigation and which may be available from the pending investigation,” the ED statement said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court Thursday extended until November 29 the interim protection from arrest granted to Chidambaram in the INX Media case lodged by the ED and CBI. The matter was adjourned to November 29 since Justice A K Pathak, before whom his petitions were listed for hearing, did not hold court.