The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram for allegedly not cooperating with the agency in the inquiry into the INX Media case.
Chidambaram was arrested at Chennai airport after returning from the United Kingdom. He was interrogated and flown to Delhi to appear before a court. The Congress responded to his arrest by accusing the Centre of indulging in vendetta politics.
Karti Chidambaram’s chartered accountant has been in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate since February 16, when he was arrested from a five-star hotel in Delhi.
What is the INX Media case?
The CBI filed a First Information Report on May 15, 2016, alleging there were irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s Foreign Direct Investment clearance – which is the government’s approval for foreign investment – to INX Media in 2007, when P Chidambaram was the finance minister. The company was then owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, who are in jail in connection with the murder of Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.
The complaint alleged that Karti Chidambaram used his father’s influence to interfere in the FIPB’s process to clear INX Media’s application. He allegedly received Rs 10 lakh in kickbacks from INX Media for his interference. The CBI has also accused INX Media of bribing Karti Chidambaram to scuttle a tax investigation.
How did it work?
INX Media had approached the FIPB seeking permission to issue equity shares to three non-resident investors, in order to create several news channels. INX Media also proposed that financial investment up to 26% of the outstanding equity share capital of the company be allowed.
However, the FIPB only allowed the first request, allowing INX Media to avail FDI of Rs 4.62 crore. But the company generated financial investment worth Rs 305 crore in violation of the ruling, the FIR claimed.
According to the complaint, INX Media approached Karti Chidambaram after its proposal was rejected. Using his influence, the company allegedly filed a second application for financial investment worth Rs 300 crore, and the FIPB cleared it.
What has happened in the investigation?
In May 2017, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors. Subsequently, the CBI also filed a case against Karti Chidambaram.
The two agencies then carried out several raids on offices and residences owned by the Chidambarams, and questioned Karti Chidambaram several times.
A lookout notice, which alerts airports to stop a passenger from travelling abroad, was also issued against Karti Chidambaram, as the agencies feared he would attempt to close his foreign bank accounts where they suspected he had parked the money. The Madras High Court stayed the notice once after Chidambaram filed a plea, but it was reinstated by the Supreme Court. The top court in November 2017 allowed him to go abroad for his daughter’s admission to Cambridge University.
On Wednesday, Karti Chidambaram was taken to the Patiala House Court, where he will be represented by lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.