The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday questioned former finance minister P Chidambaram for the fourth time in the Aircel-Maxis case. Sources said Chidambaram, who arrived at the ED office around noon, was questioned for six hours. He was questioned on various aspects of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval given for the Aircel-Maxis deal, sources said.
Chidambaram, along with his son Karti, is being probed by the CBI and ED for allegedly allowing foreign direct investment into the Aircel-Maxis deal in contravention of rules for alleged pecuniary gains. Chidambaram has denied the allegations on multiple occasions and said the ED was probing him without even registering an FIR.
After similar questioning by the ED in June, Chidambaram had said that what he told the agency was already recorded in government documents. He also said there was no FIR, yet a probe had been initiated. “More than half the time taken up by typing the answers without errors, reading the statement and signing it!” he had said in a tweet.
The former minister has already been charge-sheeted in the case by the CBI, which told a special court that Chidambaram was aware that foreign investment into the Aircel-Maxis deal was for over Rs 3,500 crore and yet he did not refer the matter to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). It also told the court that in lieu of the approval, companies controlled by Karti were paid over Rs 1 crore.
“The original application of Maxis for investment was of Rs 3,500 crore for purchase of 18 crore shares of Aircel. But when the file was moved for FIPB approval, it was pegged at Rs 180 crore (at Rs 10 face value of the shares) without calculating the premium. In no other case of FIPB approval, face value was considered. So to say that the minister and the officials were not aware of the actual investment is a lie,” a CBI official said, describing the evidence cited in the chargesheet.