The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued fresh summons to Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, in connection with the INX Media money laundering case, official sources said. They said Karti has been asked to depose before the investigating officer (IO) of the case on February 15. Karti could not be reached for a comment on the development.
The central probe agency had earlier summoned Karti on February 2 after which he informed them that he would be unable to depose as he has an interlocutory application pending in the Supreme Court in this case. He was earlier grilled by the agency in this case on January 18. Talking to reporters, Karti had said that he told the investigators what he had earlier “clearly stated in his petitions in the court” (in the case).
The former Union minister’s son was referring to his moving of various courts, including the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court, in response to the ED’s action against him. The central probe agency had registered the case against him and others in May last year. It had registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED’s equivalent of a police FIR, against the accused named in a CBI complaint, including Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors — Peter and Indrani Mukerjea.
The ECIR was lodged under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The sources said the ED was probing the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated in this case. It was the Enforcement Directorate which had provided information about the alleged illegal payments made by INX Media, based on which the CBI had filed its FIR.
The CBI had also carried out searches at the houses and offices of Karti Chidambaram across four cities for allegedly receiving money from the media firm owned by the Mukerjeas to scuttle a tax probe. The Chidambarams, however, have denied all the charges made against them. The CBI had filed the FIR against Karti and the Mukerjeas on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.
The agency has alleged that Karti received money from INX Media for using his influence to manipulate a tax probe against it in a case of violation of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) conditions to receive investment from Mauritius. The CBI has said that it also seized vouchers of Rs 10 lakh which were allegedly paid for the services. The vouchers were issued in favour of the Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Limited, a firm “indirectly” owned by Chidambaram’s son.
Former finance minister P Chidambaram, after the CBI searches on May 16 last year, had issued a strong statement against the raids, saying the government was using the CBI and other agencies to target his son. “The FIPB approval was granted in hundreds of cases,” the senior Congress leader had said.
The CBI FIR was made out against Karti, his company Chess Management Services, the Mukerjeas (currently in jail on charges of murder of their daughter Sheena Bora), INX Media, Advantage Strategic Consulting Services and its director Padma Vishwanathan.
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