Aircel-Maxis deal: Advantage Strategic Consulting and Vasan Eye Care raided
The Enforcement Directorate, along with the I-T department, on Tuesday conducted raids on firms allegedly linked to Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union finance minister P Chidambaram. The raids were conducted on Advantage Strategic Consulting, a company with which Karti Chidambaram was associated earlier and Vasan Eye Care, an eye care chain. In August, two directors of the company had been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Aircel-Maxis case and charges of money laundering.
ED is learnt to have investigated transactions of Advantage Consulting, which had allegedly extended Rs 26 lakh to Aircel and is believed to have benefitted out of the Aircel-Maxis deal. The allegation was that Advantage Strategic was controlled by Karti through his Ausbridge Holdings where he had 94% equity holding. Ausbridge had bought shares of Advantage Strategic equal to 66% stake. The whole matter is under scrutiny as part of the overall probe into the 2G scam, which the Supreme Court is monitoring.
The former minister while reacting to the raid said, “If the government wants to target me, it should do so directly. My family and I are quite prepared to face the ‘malicious onslaught’ launched by government.”
In the Aircel-Maxis case, ED had in December last year questioned former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi after the agency had probed all the financial transactions of their Sun Network group companies. The issue relates to 2006 when the matter of change of ownership of Aircel was pending with then finance minister P Chidambaram. As FM, he had approved the Maxis investment in Aircel on March 7, 2006.
Sources said the raid was conducted to investigate about the financial transaction between Karti and Aircel, days before Maxis invested in the telecom company in March 2006, when P Chidambaram was heading the finance ministry. Chidambaram approved the ownership change pattern of Aircel. The agencies are expected to go through the financial records of both the firms linked to Kirti, to probe the angle of conflict of interest.
In a statement, Chidambaram said, “We have made it clear, repeatedly, that no member of my family has any equity or economic interest in any of the firms that are being targeted. They are companies that are professionally managed and are capable of answering any questions that may be put to them by the authorities. I condemn the attempt to link them to my son and harass them on that ground.”