Former finance minister P Chidambaram today said the CBI should be questioning him instead of harassing his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case and accused the probe agency of spreading misinformation. The Central Bureau of Investigation had called Karti for questioning yesterday in connection with the foreign investment clearance given in the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father Chidambaram was the finance minister. Karti refused to appear, saying a special court had discharged all the accused and terminated proceedings in the matter, a claim strongly contradicted by the CBI which maintains that the investigation was still on. “In Aircel-Maxis, FIPB recommended and I approved minutes. CBI should question me and not harass Karti Chidambaram.
“Sad CBI spreading misinformation. In Aircel-Maxis, FIPB officials have recorded statements before CBI that approval given was valid,” P Chidambaram said in a series of tweets. According to a CBI charge-sheet submitted in a special court, Mauritius-based M/s Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for an investment of $800 million in Aircel. (This amounts to approx Rs 5,127 crore, according to existing conversion rates).
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was competent to grant the approval. “However, the approval was granted by the then finance minister. Further investigation is being carried out into the circumstances of the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval granted by the then finance minister. The related issues are also being investigated,” the agency had said in 2014.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy claimed the former finance minister had given FIPB clearance to a deal that should have been referred to the CCEA, headed by the prime minister, as it alone was empowered to clear foreign investments of over Rs 600 crore. P Chidambaram, who was examined by the agency in connection with the case in 2014, had issued a statement this year, saying the FIPB approval was granted in the “normal course of business”.