Aircel-Maxis case: ED files fresh chargesheet against Karti Chidambaram
The Enforcement Directorate (ED ) on Wednesday filed fresh chargesheet against Karti Chidambaram in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case in Delhi's Patiala House Court.
The charge sheet, called the prosecution complaint in ED parlance, was filed before the court of special judge O P Saini. It likely underlined the role of Karti and others in the alleged money laundering.
Apart from Karti Chidambaram, the agency has also named Advantage Strategic Consultancies Private Limited and its directors Padma Bhaskararamana and Ravi Viswanathan, and Chess Management Services Pvt. Ltd. and its director Annamalai Palaniappa in the charge sheet under section 4 (punishment for money laundering) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The court has now posted the matter to July 4 for consideration of the charge sheet.
Special Public Prosecutors Nitesh Rana and N K Matta, appearing for the ED, told the court that a total of Rs 1.16 crore allegedly belonging to Karti Chidambaram, has been attached by the agency.
According to sources, the agency in its charge sheet, filed through advocate A R Aditya, mentioned that the former Union minister's son has been linked with various individuals and companies involved in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval given to the Aircel-Maxis deal.
It also alleged that Karti Chidambaram was in the process of alienating the property involved in the money laundering in order to frustrate the proceedings under PMLA.
The agency has questioned and recorded the statement of Karti in this case at least twice, under the money laundering case.
Karti was questioned for the first time by the ED in connection with the case which is related to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval granted in 2006 in this case by his father. The ED claims that an alleged payment of Rs 26 lakh was made by Aircel Televentures Limited to ASCPL, a firm allegedly linked to Karti, within a few days of this FIPB approval, the agency had claimed.
It said it is investigating "the circumstances of said FIPB approval granted by the then Finance minister (Chidambaram)". FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March 2006 by the senior Chidambaram even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and beyond that it required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the ED said.
"In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval. However, approval was not obtained from CCEA," it had alleged. The agency said its probe revealed that the case of the said FDI was "wrongly projected as an investment of Rs 180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny".
It has also claimed that a firm, CMSPL, promoted by Karti and P Chidambaram's nephew A Palaniappan received a sum of about USD 0.2 million from the Maxis group allegedly for procuring a legal compliance software. The agency said probe revealed that the "software was designed only for use in India and hence, was of no use to a Malaysian company."
In September last year, the ED had attached assets worth Rs 1.16 crore of Karti and the firm allegedly linked to him in connection with this case. The ED, in 2016, had filed a charge sheet in this case against former Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and four others. However, the court had later discharged them last year in both the ED and the CBI case pertaining to the Aircel-Maxis deal.
The two agencies subsequently had appealed against this order before the Delhi high court. The ED today questioned P Chidambaram for the second time in this case.