Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday termed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s accusations against him in the Aircel-Maxis case as “false” and “baseless”, PTI reported. The statement was part of Chidambaram’s rejoinder to the agency’s claims of misconduct against him.
The case pertains to clearances that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board granted the firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd for investment in Aircel in 2006. Chidambaram was the finance minister at the time and his son Karti Chidambaram allegedly facilitated the payment of bribes in the Aircel-Maxis transaction.
The Enforcement Directorate, which is also investigating a money laundering angle in the case, is looking into why Chidambaram approved the investment when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs can give the green signal for such deals.
Chidambaram’s lawyers filed the rejoinder before Special Judge OP Saini. “The averments [by the CBI] that the applicant [P Chidambaram] had usurped the power of the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, unlawfully granted the Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval to Global Communication Services Ltd, Mauritius, and had chosen not to disclose facts which are in his exclusive knowledge are denied as being false, baseless and untenable,” Chidambaram’s statement said.
The former finance minister’s statement claimed that due procedure was followed in assigning the clearances. The recommendations of the board are submitted to the Ministry of Finance, where junior officers, followed by the additional secretary and secretary, vet the document before sending it to the finance minister for approval, the statement said.
On November 1, a Delhi court extended till November 26 the interim protection from arrest granted to P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case. The former minister had filed the plea for protection from arrest on May 30 and has has been granted relief by the court on several occasions.
The investigating agencies have been pushing for Chidambaram’s custodial interrogation while citing that it is necessary as he has been evasive and non-cooperative in the probe.