Justifying continuance of a lookout notice issued against Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, the CBI on Friday told the Supreme Court that it was necessary to prevent him from travelling abroad as he was closing his multiple foreign bank accounts and transferring funds from them. The bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra posted the matter for further hearing on October 4 after hearing both CBI and Chidambaram. As of now, Karti cannot leave the country till the next date of hearing. Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta is appearing for the CBI and senior counsel Kapil Sibal is representing Chidambaram. Wanting to place the documents concerning its investigation in a sealed cover, Mehta told the bench that during the investigation, various other issues have surfaced and clarity on other illegalities are expected.
“What he did abroad is part of this sealed cover… He (Karti) said (during interrogation) that he has only one account abroad. But when he went abroad, he closed several bank accounts abroad. Great Britian Pounds were transferred. I don’t want to say all this as it will embarrass him but I have been compelled,” he said. Sibal repeatedly opposed the ASG’s submissions saying that the allegation raised by Mehta are not part of the FIR filed in Delhi. “They interrogated me (Karti), but not a single question was asked on this,” Sibal said, adding that “if they can show any signature of Karti on any account, they can prosecute him under FEMA or blackmoney law”.
The case against Karti pertains to an FIR lodged by the CBI on May 15, alleging irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media, which was then run by Peter Mukherjea and his wife Indrani Mukherjea, for receiving overseas funds to the tune of R305 crore in 2007. While INX Media had approval for foreign investment worth R4.62 crore, it had managed to raise around R305 crore in 2007 through “influence in the finance ministry.” At that time P Chidambaram was the finance minister, according to the CBI. The CBI had registered the FIR against Karti on May 15 and had issued notice on June 15 asking Karti to appear before the investigating officer on June 29.
The investigative agency had then on June 16 issued the Look Out Circular (LOC). The LOCs were also issued against the three directors of Advantage Strategic Consulting, the company which had received the kickbacks on behalf of Karti. The CBI had challenged the Madras High Court order of August 10, which put on hold the implementation of a LOC issued by the Bureau of Immigration against the businessman. The HC had stayed the LOC issued against Karti and four others, holding that they were prima facie “unwarranted”.