Home / Politics / Policy /  Aircel-Maxis case: ED files chargesheet against Chidambaram

New Delhi: The enforcement directorate (ED) tightened the noose around former Union finance minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Thursday by naming him as an accused in a supplementary chargesheet in the 3,500 crore Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

Chidambaram and nine others have now been formally charged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for conspiring with and giving clearance to foreign investors to set up shop.

The others named in the chargesheet include S. Bhaskararaman, the chartered accountant of Karti Chidambaram, the former minister’s son, and four Maxis companies.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge O.P. Saini has fixed 26 November for consideration of the chargesheet.

The ED has charged the former minister with exceeding the extent of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance that he was entitled to provide to the foreign investor, Global Communication and Services Holdings Ltd, Mauritius, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Maxis Berhad, Malaysia.

“As per rules and the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy of the government, in 2006, P. Chidambaram the then finance minister was empowered to give approval to proposals involving foreign investments of up to 600 crore only. The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication and Services Holdings Ltd, Mauritius, was of $800 million, 3,560 crore approximately," the ED said.

Chidambaram and Karti were being investigated by the ED and the CBI for allegedly receiving kickbacks and ensuring FIPB clearance for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006, when Chidambaram was the finance minister in the Congress-led UPA 2 government.

ED has claimed that Aircel Televentures Ltd paid 26 lakh to Karti Chidambaram-controlled Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd (ASCPL) within a few days of the FIPB approval. The money was received through Bhaskararaman. The ED said that the foreign direct investment was “wrongly projected as an investment of 180 crore" so that it could escape scrutiny by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

The ED filed records collected from the ministry of finance, as well as other government organisations, besides documents seized from the searches in the premises of the accused. The agency will move court to seek cancellation of the anticipatory bail awarded to the Chidambarams.

“The ED investigation will continue before the special court of PMLA concerning the cancellation of anticipatory bail of Karti P. Chidambaram and applications filed by Karti P. Chidambaram and P. Chidambaram. The investigation by ED will also continue relating to new facts which are pending for investigation and which may be available from the pending investigation," the ED said.

Chidambaram did not respond to messages seeking comments. Earlier in the day, the Congress leader lambasted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for the ongoing controversy in the CBI. “We are witnessing the implosion of the investigating agencies. Who is responsible for sowing the seeds of destruction in the last four years?" he asked in a tweet.

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