ED grills Chidambaram for first time in INX Media case

ED grills Chidambaram for first time in INX Media case
Chidambaram's role had come under the scanner of the investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday questioned former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case for giving Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the group in 2007.

The agency questioned the 73-year-old Congress leader over eight hours and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

This is the first time the ED grilled Chidambaram in this case. Earlier, he was examined by the agency in the Aircel-Maxis PMLA case.

ED officials grilled the former Union Minister till late evening at the agency's Jamnagar House office at India Gate. He arrived at the ED office around 11 am.

The agency had issued summons to Chidambaram in November asking him to depose before the investigating officer of the case on Wednesday.

The Delhi High Court last month extended till January 15 the interim protection from arrest granted to Chidambaram on his pleas seeking anticipatory bail in the case lodged by both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The court had also directed him to cooperate with the investigation.

The ED had registered a PMLA case based on a CBI FIR and alleged that irregularities took place in the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.

The ED and the CBI were also probing how the UPA minister's son Karti Chidambaram managed to get the FIPB clearance.

The junior Chidambaram was arrested on February 28 by the CBI for allegedly taking money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media when his father was part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. He was later granted bail.

The ED probe so far showed that for the FIPB approval, INX Media directors Peter and Indrani Mukerjea met P Chidambaram, so that there was no hold-up or delay in their application.

"Chidambaram asked for his son's business interests to be kept in mind. The ED identified payments of Rs 3.09 crore by Peter Mukerjea to ASCPL and associated entities controlled by Karti P. Chidambaram through manipulated debit notes.

"During the investigation, it was admitted that debit notes were raised on the directions of Karti to show some transactions which in fact did not occur," the agency has alleged.

The ED has said that the money so received by associated entities was channelled back into the ASCPL.

The ED has attached properties worth Rs 54 crore belonging to Karti Chidambaram and a firm in connection with the case. The ED has also attached properties belonging to the Mukerjeas in connection with the same case.

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