Chidambaram residence raid: How a 2015 ED search prompted CBI probe into INX deal
It was during a 2015 meeting that the ED informed CBI about the evidence they had collected during its raid of Advantage Strategic, a company allegedly owned by Karti Chidambaram.
The CBI raid on former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son, Karti, was triggered by information provided by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a financial crime investigation agency, a senior official privy to the development told HT on Tuesday.
Sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched Karti Chidambaram’s homes and offices across New Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai and Chennai, which officials said was part of an investigation into suspected corruption during the senior Chidambaram’s tenure as the Union finance minister.
The CBI also named Karti as an accused in a case related to sale of stakes in INX Media, floated by former media baron Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani. The couple are facing trial for the murder of her daughter from a previous relationship.
At 1 pm on February 2, hours after former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran’s acquittal in the Aircel-Maxis cases filed by the CBI, the federal investigating agency’s headquarters had a rare visitor, ED director Karnal Singh.
Singh was visiting his former colleague at Delhi police and the new CBI director Alok Verma, who had taken charge the previous day, the official privy to the meeting said on condition of anonymity.
With the court’s dismissal of the CBI charge sheet against the Marans, the ED probe into the Aircel-Maxis case and P Chidambaram’s alleged role in the scandal was under threat.
By then, the ED had confiscated Maran’s properties worth Rs 700 crores.
It was during this meeting the ED informed the CBI about the evidence they had collected in December, 2015 during its raid of Advantage Strategic, a company allegedly owned by Karti.
Subsequently, Singh wrote 5 letters to Verma detailing how 8 companies seeking clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) headed by then finance minister Chidambaram paid “consultancy fee” to Advantage Strategic.
“Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL) has been earning income by way of consultancy income from various business entities involved in various businesses. The income earned by way of consultancy shows certain nexus with political decisions taken for various approvals. One such consultancy received by M/s ASCPL is the consultancy received from INX media”, Singh wrote to Verma.
Based on this information, the CBI decided a fortnight ago to launch a wider probe into alleged irregularities in the FIPB clearances during Chidambaram’s tenure.
“There is lot more synergy between both agencies now in terms of sharing of information. We are looking into other 4 letters from ED related to irregularities in foreign investment approvals,” a source in the CBI said.
The source said the INX Media case is an “open and shut case”.
The CBI’s cases hinge on INX records which mentions that it paid Advantage Strategic Rs 10 lakhs for “management consultancy charge towards FIPB notification and clarification”. INX had an agreement with the Karti-promoted Chess Management based in Gurugram.