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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Karti to be quizzed for taking $1 million bribe from INX Media: CBI to court

Karti to be quizzed for taking $1 million bribe from INX Media: CBI to court

Karti Chidambaram was sent to one-day CBI custody by the Patiala court which asked CBI to produce him before the concerned special judge on Thursday

Karti Chidambaram was arrested this morning at Chennai airport soon after he returned from the UK in connection with the INX Media case. Photo: PTIPremium
Karti Chidambaram was arrested this morning at Chennai airport soon after he returned from the UK in connection with the INX Media case. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Karti Chidambaram, arrested in connection with the INX Media case, was on Wednesday sent to one-day CBI custody by a Delhi court after the agency claimed his custodial interrogation was needed to unearth the conspiracy over alleged payment of $1 million bribe to him by the media company through foreign entities.

The fresh evidence in the case, which triggered the arrest of Karti, son of senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram, was based on the statement of Indrani Mukerjea, former director of INX Media (P) Ltd, who recorded it under section 164 of CrPC before a magistrate on 17 February.

In the statement under this section, which is like a confessional statement before a judicial magistrate, Indrani has stated that she and her husband Peter Mukerjea had acceded to Karti’s demand of $1 million for allegedly fixing the violations done in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance.

Karti, who was arrested this morning at Chennai airport soon after he returned from the UK, was brought to Delhi and produced before a duty magistrate.

The CBI sought his custodial interrogation for 15 days but duty magistrate Sumeet Anand granted one day’s custody, making it clear that Karti has to be produced before the concerned special judge on Thursday at 2.30pm.

Duty magistrate is a judge before whom the accused is produced when the concerned judge is not available or when any accused is produced after the regular court hours and in this case, the concerned special judge had left the court premises after around 4.30pm. Karti was produced before the duty magistrate at around 4.50pm.

During the proceedings, CBI prosecutor V.K. Sharma told the court that “Indrani’s statement under section 164 CrPC was recorded before a magistrate on 17 February in which she told the magistrate that in a meeting at a five-star hotel in New Delhi, she and Peter met Karti and he demanded $1 million."

“The money was later paid by Peter on behalf of INX Media through off-shore entities and it is being investigated," the CBI claimed, adding “this was done to fix the violations done in FIPB clearance".

The prosecutor said Karti was needed to be quizzed to unearth the “total conspiracy" and claimed he was not cooperating in the probe and was repeatedly travelling abroad which “confirmed apprehensions" that “he will flee" from India.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for Karti, said it was a “bizzare" case and no grounds for arrest were made out. “It is a bizzare case at the threshhold. It is not a case of arrest, leave aside police custody or judicial custody," he told the court while opposing the CBI’s remand plea.

He also argued that Karti was summoned twice by the CBI on 23 and 28 August last year and was interrogated for 22 hours. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also summoned him in the money laundering case related to INX Media and he had joined the probe on various occasions, including 10 days ago, Sinhgvi said.

He said, “There are no reasons given for the arrest. It is because you (CBI) want to show it to your bosses that you are doing some work." “Unlike others, I (Karti) am not ‘Hindustan leaver’ and instead I am ‘Hindustan returner’," he said and claimed that Karti was cooperating with the CBI and the court might impose any condition while releasing him from the agency’s custody. “I (Karti) am not a fugitive," Singhvi, assisted by senior advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur, said.

The CBI alleged that Karti had not cooperated in the investigation “until compelled to do so by the Supreme Court" and he had “vehemently denied that he or his company had any interaction with INX Media on any matter including FIPB related matter despite evidence to the contrary".

“Thus, Karti Chidambaram needs to be subjected to sustained interrogation for unearthing the total conspiracy hatched in the case and also to find out the details of overseas payments received by him from INX Media as a quid pro quo for influence exercised by him over the public servants to scuttle the punitive action required to be taken against M/s INX Media (P) Ltd for the illegal acts of receiving excess investment than the approved FDI and also for making of downstream investment without the FIPB approval," it said.

The agency claimed that Karti’s frequent foreign visits have confirmed the “apprehensions of his tampering with the evidence lying abroad against him and others in the form of secret note received from the ministry of finance".

It said that a “secret note" received from the finance ministry was also shown in a sealed cover to the apex court and the Madras High Court while objecting to Karti’s foreign visits in justification of the look out circular (LoC) issued against him.

The CBI said that Karti had gone to the UK from 15 June to 13 July last year and again travelled to the UK from 1 December to 10 December last year. Thereafter, Karti again went to the UK and France on 18 February and returned on Wednesday, it said.

The CBI had lodged an FIR on 15 May last year alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs305 crore in 2007 when P. Chidambaram was the Union finance minister.

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Published: 28 Feb 2018, 10:33 PM IST
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