CBI raids residences of former Union minister P Chidambaram, son Karti in Chennai

Published on May 16 2017 - - India - -

The central bureau of investigation raided the residences of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Chennai early on Tuesday in connection with two cases where the father-son duo have been accused of corruption.

News agencies said at least 14 locations in Chidambaram’s home city Chennai, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Delhi were searched by the CBI.

Sources said the raids were in connection with foreign investment clearances given by the erstwhile UPA government, in which P Chidambaram was then the finance minister.

The cases include the deal between telecom players Aircel and Maxis, and investments received by INX News.

The former Union home minister has routinely dismissed such investigations as politically-motivated cases by the BJP government.

“The government is using CBI and other agencies to targeting my son and his friends. The government wants to silence my voice,” news agency ANI quoted Chidambaram as saying on Tuesday morning.

“The government wants to stop me from writing, as it has tried to with leaders of opposition parties, journalists, columnists, NGOs and civil society members,” he said.

Tuesday’s raids are a consequence of pressure from CBI’s sister agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which said in a status report submitted to Supreme Court in April that it has included P Chidambaram as an accused in their investigation into Aircel-Maxis case.

Aircel was sold to Maxis, a Malaysian company, in a deal that allegedly contravened protocol for foreign investments.

Sources privy to the development said ED has alleged that Advantage Strategic, a Chennai-based company purportedly owned by Karti, received ₹1.16 crore from companies whose FIPB clearances were done in an illegal manner by the then finance minister Chidambaram.

CBI was investigating the Aircel-Maxis case since 2013 but did not include Chidambaram or his son in the suspects list.

In December 2015, raids by Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (I-T) found that Advantage Strategic received “consultancy fee” of ₹ 90 Lakh from INX before getting an FIPB clearance.

The original promoter of INX news channel, Peter Mukherjee is a key suspect in Sheena Bora murder case.

ED has recently shared evidence that it retrieved during the raids evidence that suggests the ultimate beneficiary of Advantage Strategic is the Chidambaram family.

“Every case processed according to law and approval granted or refused in accordance with FIPB recommendations consisting of 5 GOI secretaries,” ANI quoted Chidambaram as saying.

Citing ED documents, HT reported last year that according to the terms of a Will deed recovered from the Chennai office of Advantage Strategic, 60% of the controversial company will be owned by Karti’s family.

The remaining will be owned by Ausbridge Holdings — once 95% owned by Karti — which was later transferred at a discount to Mohanan Rajesh, alleged to be his close associate.

These wills are among a cache of documents recovered by a joint Income Tax-Enforcement Directorate probe into Karti Chidambaram. The probe has gathered evidence that Karti’s businesses span 22 countries in the form of estates, sports academies, hotels and apartments.

Karti Chidambaram did not respond to text messages or telephone calls. “The contents in the will establish that Karti Chidambaram’s family is the real owner of these shares and the assets held by the company,” says the ED report to CBI.

Other documents recovered from the office of Karti Chidambaram and Advantage point out that the latter received consultancy fees from companies that had applied to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board at a time it came under then finance minister P Chidambaram. One bank account of Advantage Strategic with Development Credit Bank (A/c 06020100003711) reveals the scale of its operations: Rs 151.31 crore of transactions since 2005-06.

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