CBI raids Chidambarams homes: Charges against ex-minister might damage Congress Integrity.

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday raided the house of former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti.The former Union home minister and his son have been accused of a number of bribery allegations.

The agency named Karti Chidambaram and INX Media owners Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and prevention of corruption act in its FIR.

A FIR has been lodged against former Union minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti, Indrani Mukherjea, unknown officers of FIPB Unit of Ministry of Finance and others over alleged financial misappropriation over Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to Peter and Indrani’s media company INX Media.

The raids are being conducted in 14 places. CBI is conducting searches at locations in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurugram and Chennai including the residence of Karti Chidambaram in connection with the criminal misconduct in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval, said an official statement.

Sources reported that a sprawling home in Mumbai’s Worli neighbourhood belonging to owners of INX Media, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, was among a dozen locations raided today. The CBI, which is investigating the investment approval given by Karti’s father and former union finance minister, P. Chidambaram, is also handling the Sheena Bora murder case involving Peter and Indrani, who are currently lodged in jail.

The case has been registered under section 120-B r/w, section 420, section 8 and section 13(2) r/w and 13 (1) (d) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

It is alleged that while the clearance was only for Rs. 4 crore, the actual foreign investment was much higher, and this was allowed because Karti allegedly facilitated the deal. The CBI is also investigating a money trail and the bribe allegedly given to Karti.

According to reports, on Sept 22, 2008, Karti’s Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited (ASCPL) allegedly received Rs. 35 Lakhs from INX Media, on the same day another Rs.60 lakh was allegedly paid from INX Media to Northstar Software Solutions Pvt Ltd. On September 24, 2008, another tranche of 20,000 Dollars was allegedly paid to ASCPL’s Singapore subsidiary by INX Media.

The involvement of P. Chidambaram is also being investigated since he was a Union Minister then.

CBI registered the case against INX Media through its director Indrani, Peter, Karti, Chess Management Services (a company of Karti), Advantage Strategic Consulting Limited through its director Padma Vishwanathan.

According to sources, the Central Bureau of Investigation had registered a case against Karti on Monday for granting the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) clearance to INX media. Karti had already received kickbacks for his help in getting the government’s approval for INX.

INX media has a controversial history, sources reported.  According to the report, P Chidambaram had once referred INX’ financial transactions for investigations by an SFIO (Serious Frauds Investigation Officer).

The cases include the deal between telecom players Aircel and Maxis, and investments received by INX News.

Earlier, On 17 April, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said it had issued notice to Vasan Health Care Pvt Ltd, its promoter Karti, and Advantage Strategic Consulting for violating foreign currency laws to the tune of Rs 2,307 crore.

Meanwhile, the CBI is expected to raid Chidambaram’s native place in Karaikudi also.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been probing the involvement of Karti Chidambaram’s company for alleged foreign exchange violations. Reacting to the raids, Chidambaram said he and his son Karti were being targeted to muzzle his voice.

“The government, by using CBI and other agencies, is targeting my son and his friends. Government’s  aim is to silence my voice and stop me from writing, as it has tried to do in the cases of leaders of Opposition parties, journalists, columnists, NGOs and civil society organizations I shall continue to speak and write,” said a statement issued by P Chidambaram.

Karti Chidambaram said the charges are baseless. “I am being targeted politically and personally. Will give a detailed statement after the raids,” said Karti Chidambaram.

The Congress leader said every case in FIPB was processed according to the law. “FIPB approval is granted in hundreds of cases. The five secretaries who constitute the FIPB, the officials of the FIPB Secretariat and the competent authority in each case are the public officials. There is no allegation against any of them. There is no allegation against me. Approval or refusal to a case was in accordance with the recommendations of the FIBP.”

“The government, by using CBI and other agencies, is targeting my son and his friends. Government’s  aim is to silence my voice and stop me from writing, as it has tried to do in the cases of leaders of Opposition parties, journalists, columnists, NGOs and civil society organizations. I shall continue to speak and write,” said a statement issued by P Chidambaram.

Karti Chidambaram said the charges are baseless. “I am being targeted politically and personally. Will give a detailed statement after the raids,” said Karti Chidambaram.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy attacked P Chidambaram over the CBI raids. “His name is involved in many cases, there have been a lot of violation that has happened. A process has begun and I hope Chidambaram will be sent where he belongs”, he said.

The Congress has been accusing the Modi government of “political witch hunting”, not just in this case but all other cases of alleged corruption concerning its top party leaders, these include the National Herald cases involving Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi where they are out on bail and the dubious land deals of Robert Vadra.

The National Herald scam is an ongoing case in a Delhi court filed by Indian economist and politician Subramanian Swamy against politicians Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, their companies and associated persons.

As per the complaint filed in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Indian National Congress granted an interest-free loan of ₹90.25 crore (US$14 million) to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), owner of the National Herald Newspaper which was established by Jawaharlal Nehru and other freedom fighters in 1938.

It was alleged that the loan was not repaid, which is in violation of Section 269T of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal rejected Chidambaram charge that he was being targeted for his columns critical of the government and claimed that the issue was why beneficiaries of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) gave “money to firms owned by his son”. Goyal said: “An investigation must have been going on, raids don’t happen overnight.”

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