It was on the ED’s reference that the CBI registered a case against Karti and INX Media.
Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday in connection with its probe into the INX Media case. Flown to New Delhi from Chennai airport where he was held shortly after he stepped off a flight from the UK, Karti was produced before a metropolitan magistrate who sent him to CBI custody for the night and directed
that he be produced before the CBI court on Thursday. The CBI said Karti was arrested for not cooperating with investigators. In May 2017, the CBI filed an FIR naming, among others, Karti and INX Media for alleged irregularities in clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to the media group for receiving overseas funds in 2007 when Chidambaram was Union finance minister. The CBI alleged that INX Media’s foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal was “deceitful and fallacious” but was still granted approval. The Enforcement Directorate, which too was probing Karti in the case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), arrested Karti’s chartered accountant Bhaskararaman on February 16.
It was on the ED’s reference that the CBI registered a case against Karti and INX Media. The ED, which was already investigating a company associated with Karti in connection with the Aircel Maxis deal and FDI inflow into Vasan Healthcare, had found documents related to the INX Media FDI inflow during searches. The ED had found documents which showed Advantage Strategic Consulting, a company that CBI claimed was indirectly controlled by Karti, had been paid Rs 10 lakh as consultancy fee to help it get FIPB approval. After lodging the FIR, the CBI conducted searches at premises linked to Karti and the residence of Peter Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea. The CBI FIR alleged that INX Media’s FDI inflow had been initially flagged by FIPB for alleged irregularities and a clarification had been sought from the media house. But a company controlled by Karti was brought in for consultancy, the CBI said, and INX Media’s fresh proposal was approved by FIPB “by virtue of influence exercised over them by Karti P Chidambaram”.
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By doing this, the CBI alleged, officials “not only ignored the serious illegality on the part of M/s INX Media but also embarked on showing undue favour to INX Group by abusing their official position”. In return for the services rendered, the CBI alleged, Karti got a payment of Rs 10 lakh through Advantage Strategic Consulting “which was controlled by him indirectly”. The agency also alleged that it found invoices for Rs 3.5 crore in favour of INX Media raised by companies in which Karti had “sustainable interest” and with “common directors”. Denying any wrongdoing, Karti had then said: “I am being targeted politically and personally to besmirch the name of my father. They have not seized any documents and cannot prove any charges against me. I have not done anything wrong.”