Chidambaram INX Media Case HIGHLIGHTS: Hours after the Delhi High Court rejected the anticipatory bail petitions of former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media case, a CBI team visited the Congress leader’s house on Tuesday evening.
CBI had registered an FIR on May 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the INX group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007. Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister at the time.
Earlier in the day, while dismissing his pleas, the Delhi High Court said “facts of the case prima facie reveal that” he is the “kingpin that is the key conspirator in the case”. Justice Sunil Gaur vacated his July 25, 2018 order granting interim protection from arrest in both the cases, which was being extended from time to time. “Both applications (seeking anticipatory bail) are dismissed,” the judge said.
Delhi High Court rejects anticipatory bail petitions of Chidambaram in the INX Media case.
CBI asks Chidambaram to appear within two hours
The CBI has stuck a notice outside P Chidambaram's house, asking him to appear before the agency with 2 hours.
Delhi: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has put up a notice outside the residence of P Chidambaram to appear before them in the next two hours. Earlier today, Delhi High Court had dismissed his both anticipatory bail pleas in connection with INX Media case. pic.twitter.com/IeEI5IkvGF— ANI (@ANI) August 20, 2019
What is the link to Chidambaram?
CBI has alleged that on May 26, 2008, when FIPB sought clarification from INX Media after the I-T Department began its investigation, the media firm engaged Karti Chidambaram, the promoter director of Chess Management Service (P) Ltd, to “amicably” resolve the issue by “influencing the public servants of the FIPB unit of Ministry of Finance by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram”.
CBI has alleged that FIPB, instead of investigating the case, extended undue favours to the media firm by asking INX News to apply for fresh FIPB approval on the downstream investment that it had already received.
What is the CBI case?
In its FIR, CBI said that INX Media had approached FIPB on March 13, 2007 for permission to issue 14.98 lakh equity shares and 31.22 lakh convertible non-cumulative redeemable preference shares of Rs 10 a piece to three non-resident investors under the FDI route.
These shares represented 46.21% of the issued equity capital of INX Media.
According to the CBI, in its application to FIPB in 2007, the media company also mentioned its intention to “make a down stream financial investment to the extent of 26 per cent of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of INX Media”.
On May 30, 2007, FIPB cleared FDI of Rs 4.62 crore for INX Media. But it rejected the proposal of downstream investment of INX Media in INX News.
The CBI has alleged that INX Media flouted the conditional approval of FIPB, and brought in over Rs 305 crore of FDI in the firm against the approved inflow of Rs 4.62 crore.
CBI sources had said at the time that the foreign entities bought shares of INX at Rs 862.31 a piece, which was 86.2 times more than their face value. The media organisation also made a downstream investment of 26% in its subsidiary, INX News.
ICYMI: CBI registered case in 2017, searched premises of Chidambaram and son Karti
Several years later, while investigating a company associated with Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, ED found documents linked to INX Media in the computer of Karti’s CA Bhaskarraman. The documents indicated payments made to Karti’s alleged company by INX Media at the time the Finance Ministry granted it FIPB approval.
On ED’s reference in this regard, CBI registered a case of corruption in May 2017, and searched premises connected with both Karti and his father P Chidambaram. Following this, ED lodged a case of money laundering against Karti.
Karti was arrested by CBI in February last year. He was later granted bail by Delhi High Court and is now the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga.
ICYMI: First red flags
In January 2008, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND) of the Finance Ministry flagged Foreign Direct Investment of over Rs 305 crore by three Mauritius-based companies in INX Media Pvt Ltd., then owned by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea.
The Income-Tax (I-T) Department in Mumbai forwarded the case to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). In 2010, ED registered a case against INX Media for alleged Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations.
Chidambaram kept away from media
Congress leader P Chidambaram remained silent and maintained a distance from the media after the dismissal of his anticipatory bail by the Delhi High Court in the INX Media scam, PTI reported. Chidambaram was in the Supreme Court when the news reached him and was waiting for his party colleague Kapil Sibal, PTI reported. Later, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Salman Khurshid (both party colleagues) and Dayan Krishnan joined Chidambaram.
Sibal spoke to the media and criticised the manner in which the high court dismissed Chidambaram's plea in the case. He said there was protection from arrest for 15 months and the judgment was reserved on January 24 and was pronounced by Justice Sunil Gaur two days before his retirement.
"The judgment was pronounced at 3:20 pm. We don't know why at this hour. We asked for the stay of the operation of the judgment for three days to appeal in the Supreme Court. He (Justice Gaur) said he will pass the order which was delivered at 4 pm," PTI quoted Sibal as saying.
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