The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday filed a chargesheet in a Delhi court against Karti Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case. Apart from Karti, the agency has also named four others in its chargesheet under section 4 (punishment for money-laundering) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The ED has mentioned the name of former union minister P Chidambaram at various places in the chargesheet, but he has not been arrayed as an accused in the case. The agency told the court that it may file a supplementary chargesheet in the case.
Additional Sessions Judge Ruby Alka Gupta said that it would consider the chargesheet on July 4.The court has already granted interim protection from arrest till July 10 to Karti, son of P Chidambaram, in two cases filed by the CBI and ED in 2011 and 2012, respectively in the Aircel-Maxis matter arising out of 2G spectrum cases.
P Chidambaram was on Tuesday questioned for over six hours by the ED during his second round of appearance in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case, even as he reiterated that there was no offence committed. The senior Congress leader had arrived at the ED office in the national capital shortly before 11 am and had left after 5 pm. Soon after, he had tweeted, “Another round of questions by ED in Aircel-Maxis case. I remind myself that there is no FIR and no offence is alleged.”
Chidambaram was earlier questioned in the case on June 5 by the ED. He had earlier approached the court of Special Judge OP Saini seeking relief from arrest by the ED in the case. The court had then directed the ED not to take any coercive action or arrest him till July 10 in connection with the case. The ED had first asked him to appear before it on May 30 and on the same day, Chidambaram has knocked the court’s door.
About the case:
The matter pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd for investment in Aircel. 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. It said it is investigating “the circumstances of said FIPB approval granted by the then Finance minister (Chidambaram)”, PTI reported.
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 has said.
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 2017, 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 chargesheet in this case against former Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and four others. However, the court had later discharged them in 2017 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.