CBI Closing In On Karti Chidambaram After Indrani Mukerjea Names Him During Interrogation

CBI Closing In On Karti Chidambaram After  Indrani Mukerjea Names Him During Interrogation P Chidambaram (right) with his son Karti Chidambaram

INX media promoter Indrani Mukerjea, who is the prime accused in the murder case of her daughter Sheena Bora, had in December last year admitted before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of arranging bribe payments to Karti Chidambaram’s firms, J Gopikrishnan of the Pioneer has reported.

The bribe was paid as part of her deal with Karti Chidambaram for Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given by then finance minister P Chidambaram for foreign investment worth Rs 305 crore.

In their probe, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED have found that Mukerjea paid a bribe of Rs 5 crore to a company owned by Karti Chidambaram for “dubious and illegal” FIPB clearances. The CBI now plans to question Karti Chidambaram to throw light on the details of the deal and may also summon P Chidambaram to quiz him on the charges of facilitating the FIPB clearance as the finance minister in prime minister Manmohan Singh’s government.

While INX media had received the permission to bring just Rs 5 crore as foreign investment in 2006, the firm brought in Rs 305 crore by 2007, the CBI FIR says. “Such deceitful and fallacious proposal was favourably considered by the officials of Ministry of Finance and approved by the then Finance Minister,” the FIR notes.

After being questioned for about 11 hours by officials of the ED in January, Karti Chidambaram refused to appear before the agency on 2 February saying his application challenging the ED’s action against him was pending in the Supreme Court and that the ED must await orders in the case.

Based on joint raids it carried along with the Income Tax department, the ED has prepared a list of 63 companies which it says were clients of Karti Chidambaram’s company. It is now under investigation whether these companies also offered bribes to Karti Chidambaram for FIPB clearance. In at least one case involving British liquor giant Diageo, which took over U B Group from liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the agency has found that Karti Chidambaram’s company was paid $15,000.