ED, CBI allege ‘illegal’ FIPB approvals during Chidambaram’s tenure

The Hindu

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 Agencies say these relate to clearances granted during Chidambaram’s tenure as Finance Minister

The main offence alleged against former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram revolves around certain “illegal” FIPB approvals during his tenure and alleged kickbacks received by his son Karti via shell companies, according to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

On Wednesday, CBI officials visited Mr. Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh residence again, hours after they had pasted a notice on the wall outside his house asking him to appear before the INX Media case probe team within two hours.

Both the central agencies have issued look-out circulars against Mr. Chidambaram.

The agencies allege that in several cases, including Aircel-Maxis and INX Media, “illegal” FIPB approvals were granted. “These approvals are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED,” said a senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The CBI is probing the alleged receipt of kickbacks paid to various shell companies “linked” to Mr. Karti, which were floated in the name of his employee and business associates.
Panama Papers

In one shell company, deposits of more than ₹300 crore were made. One firm received payments from a British Virgin Islands-based company, which had figured in the Panama Papers. Payments by an Indian home financing company to a Singapore-based entity are also being probed, the official said.

The ED is pursuing money-laundering charges and investments in movable/immovable assets in India and countries like the United Kingdom, Spain and Malaysia. It claims to have identified more than two dozen foreign bank accounts.

“Investigations by the CBI and the ED are still continuing in above referred cases,” said the official. “Only in the case of Aircel-Maxis, charge sheet and prosecution complaint [by ED] has been filed. However, probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act even in this case is still continuing, as specifically noted in the prosecution complaint,” the official added.

The shareholders and directors of a main shell company had made a Will transferring the entire shareholding to the former Finance Minister’s grand daughter, the ED asserts. The Executor of the Will was Mr. Karti, the probe agency alleges.

‘Not cooperating’

The ED has accused Mr. Chidambaram and his son of not cooperating in the probe. However, on several occasions, the former Finance Minister and his son have refuted the allegations, terming them as political vendetta and a witch-hunt. Both had earlier appeared before the CBI and the ED several times, in response to the summonses.

The ED had arrested Mr. Karti in the INX Media case in February 2018 and attached assets worth more than ₹54 crore in India, Spain and the United Kingdom in connection with the case.

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