Karti Chidambaram questioned by ED in Aircel Maxis case
New Delhi: Former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti was on Tuesday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Aircel Maxis alleged money laundering case, officials said in Delhi.
Karti was questioned for the first time by the ED in connection with the case which is related to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval granted in 2006 by his father.
It is suspected by the ED that an alleged payment of Rs26 lakh was made by Aircel Televentures Limited to ASCPL, the firm allegedly linked to Karti, within a few days of the FIPB approval, they claimed.
The agency said it is investigating “the circumstances of said FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister (Chidambaram)”.
The agency said FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March, 2006 by Chidambaram even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs600 crore and beyond that it required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
“In the instant case, the approval for FDI of $800 million (over Rs3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval. However, approval was not obtained from CCEA,” it alleged.
The agency said its probe revealed that the case of the said FDI was “wrongly projected as an investment of Rs180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny”.
The agency has also claimed that a firm promoted by Karti and senior Chidambaram’s nephew A Palaniappan—CMSPL—received a sum of about $0.2 million from the Maxis Group allegedly for procuring a legal compliance software.
It said probe revealed that the “software was designed only for use in India and hence was of no use to a Malaysian company.”
The ED said further probe to “identify” other proceeds of crime as well as indirect benefits derived from them is “continuing” in this case.