The INX Media case of money laundering which allegedly involves senior Congress party leader and former Union Home Minister & Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram is back to haunt him as the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has sent the Congress party leader to the CBI custody till August 26. Chidambaram was arrested on Wednesday night in the mid of a dramatic upheaval at his 115-A Jorbagh residence. The story of his arrest is very dramatic and interesting.Also Read,
Chidambaram escaped after the AICC press conference on Wednesday in a luxury sedan in the company of Congress leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal. The CBI got this news after they reached the AICC headquarter, subsequent to which, the central agency rushed to his residence at 115-A in Jorbagh which had it’s entrance locked for any entry. The officers had to scale the wall amounting to nearly 5ft height to gain the access.
While 3 officers got successful in scaling the wall, as soon as they entered the residence premises, they opened the main door for other dozens of CBI officers waiting for the entry access. Soon, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers reached the spot and carried forward the process of arrest. The exit of the central agency officers was not so easy after the arrest. The team faced the angry Congress party supporters who raised slogans against the central agencies outside Chidambaram’s residence.Also Read,
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The protest marked such a dramatic scene that some supporters were seen jumping on the front of the white car carrying Chidambaram to protest against the arrest. The Delhi police force were also taking charge of the peaceful exit of the central agencies. The CBI and ED officials visited his residence in the night of August 20, Tuesday to inquire the alleged money laundering case of INX Media for his alleged involvement. This came a day after the Delhi High Court said that the INX Media case was a “classic case of money laundering” and it was of the prima facie opinion that his custodial interrogation is required for an effective investigation in the matter.
Former Union Home Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, however, did not get any legal reprieve as the Supreme Court refused an urgent hearing on his request for his anticipatory bail. The apex court will hear Chidambaram’s petition on August 23, Friday. The ED had put out a lookout circular for Chidambaram because he was not been seen since the High Court denied him protection from arrest on Tuesday, after which the CBI visited his home in Delhi thrice.
INX media case: Supreme Court bench of Justice R Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna will hear tomorrow pleas of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram filed against the Delhi High Court’s order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea in cases of CBI and ED pic.twitter.com/X31n5aRhbu— ANI (@ANI) August 22, 2019
Meanwhile, Chidambaram is being probed by both the investigating agencies for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearances to the INX Media group for getting overseas funds amounting to around Rs. 305 crore. This was when he was the Union Finance Minister.Also Read,
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) was a national agency of Government of India, with the remit to consider and recommend Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which does not come under the automatic route and it acted as a single window clearance for proposals on FDI. The FIPB was housed in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. FIPB was abolished on May 24, 2017, as announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during 2017-2018 budget speech in Lok Sabha.
What is the INX Media case?
In May 2017, ED had lodged an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) – a police First Information Report (FIR) equivalent – against P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, along with a couple of others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Based on the information provided by the ED, in May 2017, the CBI filed an FIR against the accused, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to INX Media in 2007 for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore when Karti’s father was the finance minister.Also Read,
In March 2007, INX Media had approached Chairman of FIPB, seeking permission for issuing equity shares to three overseas investors based in Mauritius through the FDI. According to the reports, this money was sought for creating and operating a number of television channels. The application to the FIPB also mentioned company’s proposal of making a downstream financial investment to the extent of 26 per cent of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Private Limited.
A few months later, the FIPB board approved INX’s proposal of inflow of Rs. 4.62 crore, but did not approve the proposed downstream investment. According to the CBI, despite the disapproval of the downstream investment, it brought a larger sum of Rs. 305 crore from the Mauritian companies; furthermore, INX media even brought in the downstream investment.
So the CBI’s FIR primarily alleged that “INX Media deliberately and in violations of the conditions and approval” went ahead with the downstream investment and generated FDI exceeding Rs. 305 crore in the company “by issuing shares to foreign investors at a premium of more than Rs. 800 per share” between August 2007 and May 2008.Also Read,
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When the Income Tax Department sought clarification on the above in February 2008, the directors of INX Media Peter and Indrani Mukerjea allegedly sought help from Karti Chidambaram to settle off the issue. They had also approached P Chidambaram where he insisted Peter Mukerjea to help Karti in his business.
According to the CBI, Karti had received funds to the tune of Rs. 10 lakh in the case. During it’s searches at the homes and offices of junior Chidambaram, the agency sleuths reportedly recovered vouchers for this amount issued in favour of Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Limited, a firm “indirectly” owned by him. But some sections of the media reported that there is new evidence that he had received a much bigger amount for the services.
Karti Chidambaram and his father P Chidambaram, however, have denied all charges made against them, claiming that it is all a “political vendetta” against them.Also Read,
Indrani and Peter Mukerjea’s connection with the case:
Indrani Mukerjea and her husband Peter Mukerjea, who co-founded INX Media in 2007, had been charged with entering into a criminal conspiracy with Chidambaram and son Karti to get foreign investments and for getting the necessary approvals from the FIPB.
In March 2018, Indrani Mukerjea told the CBI in a statement that a deal of $1 million was struck between Karti Chidambaram and the Mukerjeas to secure approval from the FIPB in favour of INX Media. Last month, a Delhi court had allowed Indrani Mukerjea, who is a prime accused in the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, to turn approver in the alleged INX Media scam.
In her application to turn approver, Mukerjea had prayed for pardon in the case in exchange of full and true disclosure.Also Read,
Legal procedures against P Chidambaram and son Karti:
Karti Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in February last year in connection with the INX media case. He was released on bail in March. His father meanwhile moved the Delhi HC seeking anticipatory bail in the CBI and ED cases. On Jan 25, 2019, the court had reserved it’s judgement on the pleas. On August 20, the high court dismissed the petitions, paving the way for investigating agencies to arrest him. Since then, the CBI and ED teams have visited the Congress leader’s house thrice but he went missing. P. Chidambaram was, however, arrested on August 21 after he appeared before media in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarter along with other Congress leaders.
The ED has questioned Karti on several occasions in the INX Media case. P Chidambaram was also questioned by the ED in January this year and on December 19 last year. The ED has attached properties worth Rs. 54 crore belonging to Karti Chidambaram in connection with the case. It also attached properties belonging to Indrani and Peter Mukerjea.Also Read,