INX Media case: Noose tightens around P Chidambaram
New Delhi: The noose around former union finance minister P Chidambaram is tightening as the Central Bureau of Investigation is all set to question him in connection with the INX Media case.
Apart from the approvals given in the INX Media case, there are four other similar instances that are now under the CBI’s radar. The CBI has decided to examine a detailed report by the Enforcement Directorate which speaks about FIPB clearance in four more cases.
The CBI also says that the confessional statement given by Indrani Mukerjea, a promoter of INX Media named Chidambaram senior in it. She has claimed that during her meeting in North Block in 2007 with Chidambaram when he was the union finance minister, he had told her to help his son’s business.
She further alleged that she and Peter Mukerjea were asked to make foreign remittances. Following that meeting, Karti then went on to suggest the names of Chess Management Services Ltd and Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd to make the payments.
CBI officials, however say that they are not basing the probe against Chidambaram and his son solely on the basis of a confessional statement. While that adds weight to the case, we have a detailed report on how several departments were bypassed so that the clearance could be given directly by the finance ministry.
The Enforcement Directorate which is also probing the case states that Chidambaram stands at the centre of the conspiracy. The agency cites the Aircel case in which it had sought permission to bring in FDI of Rs 3,500 crore in the year 2006. Based on investigations, it was found that the finance ministry had stated that the amount was only Rs 180 crore in foreign direct investment. This was done in order to avoid the matter being referred to the CCEA.
The ED suspects that the finance ministry during that time had suppressed the figure to overcome the rules which states that if the investment is less than Rs 600 crore then it could be cleared directly by the finance ministry through the FIPB.
Prior to this finding, the agencies have scrutinised over 2,500 FIPB files between May 2004 and 2009 and August 2012 and May 2014. The focus was also on the 54 files which concerned FDI approvals by Chidambaram in the Aircel case.
In the meantime, the CBI has been asking Karti who in their custody specific details about the alleged role played by his father. The CBI says that all this could not have been possible without the support of his father. Karti had allegedly used his father’s influence to allegedly seek bribes from INX Media and others.
The ED too is set to join the questioning and will also summon Chidambaram for probe. This process may take a week or two, officials said while confirming that the former finance minister, Chidambaram will be questioned.
We would want to ascertain if Chidambaram played a direct role or did his son use the office of his father to further his businesses in an illegal manner, a CBI official associated with the probe said.