INX Media: ED charges Chidambaram, others with money laundering of Rs 65 cr

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram at Parliament House, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
More trouble seems to be in store for former finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in its prosecution complaint commonly known as chargesheet revealed that properties worth Rs 65 crore was involved in money laundering by Advantage Strategic Consultancy Pvt Limited (ASCPL). 

The company, which was beneficially owned by Karti Chidambaram, was used to deposit proceeds of crime and later laundered by investing in shares of two entities—Vasan Healthcare and AGS Health. 
ED in the chargesheet said that ASCPL had raised invoices in the garb of services to INX Media and collected proceeds of crime without actually providing any service to them. 

On Wednesday, the Special Court took cognisance of the prosecution complaint against father- son duo along with 12 other accused 10 months after ED filed the chargesheet. The former finance minister, his son and other accused were asked to appear before the Special Court on April 7. 

The INX media case is about alleged irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media group for receiving overseas funds worth Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“Investigation revealed that the proceeds of crime worth Rs 65.88 crore detected till date are involved in money laundering through ASCPL. As a matter of oral agreement with P Chidambaram, an amount of Rs. 3.08 crore  was given by INX Media to the companies ASCPL, CBNPMC and Kriya, beneficially owned by Karti. The proceeds of crime deposited was multiplied and invested in properties, ED said in the chargesheet, a copy of which was reviewed by Business Standard. 

The federal agency explained that in the year 2008, discrepancies were noticed in the FIPB approval of INX Media. Probe found that Pratim Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea met Karti P Chidambaram, to sort out the discrepancies in Hyatt Hotel, New Delhi. 

ED alleged that Karti demanded $1 million to sort out the issue using influence of his father being the then Union Finance Minister. 

Five Invoices were raised over a period of 3 months. He received Rs 11,23,600 as first installment in his beneficially owned company ASCPL. The issue of FIPB work was sorted out. Subsequently four invoices of Rs 3.36 crore were raised by the companies beneficially owned / associated with Karti.

The proceeds of crime generated in this case were laundered by him and other co-conspirators and was invested in immovable and movable properties. 

Investigations as above reveal that various shell companies were formed and proceeds of crime was routed in the shell companies, multiplied by dubious means and then properties were purchased in India and abroad. Evidence revealed that Sh. Karti P. Chidambaram is in knowledge of the crime, said ED chargesheet.

Explaining the P Chidambaram role, ED chargesheet said that emails recovered from seized digital devices indicate that former minister was also in touch with S Bhaskararaman, close confidant of Karti and were being approached by various persons for getting their work done through P Chidambaram.

Some of the mails seized from hard disks “F-2”, “H-1” and “C5-C16” during search in Aircel - Maxis case, proving that S Bhaskararaman was also a confidant of P Chidambaram and was in his touch constantly. He was even filing tax returns for P Chidambaram. 

With regards to the relationship between him and Chidambaram, Bhaskararaman stated that he was and is working for Karti. He was also handling property related transactions of the former minister. During the statement, Bhaskararaman admitted about his relationship and said that he was told by Karti to become Power of Attorney holder. So he was looking after Chidambaram’s family trust matters also.

Investigators have also have details of evidences, including electronic, pertaining to these payments made to ASCPL and also the bank account details of the accused firm, to court.


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