After running from pillar to post to appear in several corruption cases over the past few years, Former Union Minister P Chidambaram is under arrest. The CBI arrested Chidambaram from his residence in New Delhi more than two years after it filed an FIR against him in the INX Media case. The agency has been granted custody of the Congress leader till 26 August. His and his family’s name has cropped up in several cases, including Aircel Maxis, INX Media, Diageo Scotland and Katara Holdings. These cases are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED)
MODUS OPERANDI WAS GET KICK BACKS FOR ILLEGAL FOREIGN INVESTMENT CLEARANCES
According to government sources, P Chidambaram’s modus operandi revolved around granting illegal FIBP – Foreign Investment Clearances to receive kickbacks. These kickbacks were allegedly often paid through various shell companies floated by his son Karti Chidambaram. As the name suggests, shell companies are inactive companies used as a vehicle for various financial manoeuvres. The investigating agencies have identified several such shell companies, registered in India and abroad. One of these shell companies had an investment of over Rs 300 crore.
FIRST RED FLAGS IN JANUARY 2008
The first red flags happened when the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Finance Ministry flagged Foreign Direct Investment of over Rs 305 crore by three Mauritius-based companies in INX Media Pvt Ltd., then owned by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. The Income-Tax Department in Mumbai forwarded the case to ED. Several years later, while investigating a company associated with Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, ED found documents linked to INX Media in the computer of Karti’s CA Bhaskarraman. The documents indicated payments made to Karti’s alleged company by INX Media at the time the Finance Ministry granted it FIPB approval. On ED’s reference in this regard, CBI registered a case of corruption in May 2017, and searched premises connected with both Karti and his father P Chidambaram. Following this, ED lodged a case of money laundering against Karti. Karti was arrested by CBI in February last year. He was later granted bail by Delhi High Court, and is now the Congress Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga.
THE TIMELINE OF THE CASE AGAINST CHIDAMBARAM (TYPE ALL TIMELINE BELOW)
The timeline of the case against Chidambarams gives a simpler clarity to the scam.
May 15, 2017: CBI files FIR, alleging irregularities in FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti Chidambaram’s father P Chidambaram was Union Finance Minister. The same month, ED files money laundering case in the matter.
Aug 18, 2017: After a three month chase including a look-out circular (LOC) against Karti, SC asks Karti to appear before CBI on August 23.
Sept 11, 2017: CBI furnishes details of “possible transactions” abroad and 25 alleged offshore properties of Karti in a sealed cover to Supreme Court and later the same month informed Supreme Court that they didn’t allow Karti to travel abroad as he was allegedly closing foreign bank accounts.
Oct 9, 2017: Karti again approaches Supreme Court to get his daughter admitted at Cambridge University even as P Chidambaram tells SC that the BJP-led government has been carrying on a “politically-motivated vendetta” against him and his son.
Nov 20, 2017: SC allows Karti to visit the UK for daughter’s admission.
Feb 28, 2018: Karti arrested by CBI at Chennai airport and brought to Delhi. Delhi court sends him to one police custody.
March 12, 2018: Court sends Karti to 12-day judicial custody. Karti moves Delhi HC seeking bail in the corruption case.
March 23, 2018: Delhi HC grants bail to Karti in INX Media corruption case.
May 30, 2018: Chidambaram moves Delhi HC seeking anticipatory bail plea in CBI corruption case.
July 25, 2018: HC grants him interim protection from arrest.
October 11, 2018: ED attaches 50% of Chidambaram’s Jor Bagh bungalow
July 11, 2019: Sheena Bora murder case accused and INX Media owner Indrani Mukherjea turns approver
August 20, 2019: HC dismisses anticipatory bail pleas, declines Chidambaram’s request to stay the order for 3 days to enable him to appeal in SC.
August 21, 2019: Supreme Court lists Chidambaram’s petition seeking stay of Delhi HC order that dismissed his anticipatory bail plea. On the same day, Chidambaram is arrested.
QUESTIONS POSED TO P CHIDAMBARAM BY CBI
Some media houses have also got questions posed to P Chidambaram post his arrest. And the questions further expose how the corruption footprints of the case are spread across the globe. Here are some of the questions that CBI asked P Chidambaram.
- Where did money come from for purchase of properties in UK, Spain and Malaysia?
- Where did money come from for purchase of Barcelona Tennis Club?
- Why did Karti receive money from British Virgin Island?
- Where did you or Karti invest the money got as bribe for INX deal?
The Enforcement Directorate is hopeful of getting to the bottom of the scam as they have got P Chidambaram’s custody to question him on the source of money with which his son Karti purchased a tennis club in Spain, cottages in the UK and several other properties in India and abroad worth over Rs 54 crore. All these properties were purchased allegedly using proceeds of crime generated through bribes received by Karti in the INX Media case, according to the attachment order passed by the ED in October 2018
“FRIEND, FATHER & PHILOSOPHER OF BLACK MONEY IS CHIDAMBARAM”
In an article published in UK Sunday Guardian, a senior politician and noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani wrote, P Chidambaram is “friend, father and philosopher of black money. He cannot get black money out of his blood.
“CHIDAMBARAMS RIGGED SHARE MARKET”
The same article states that Dr Subramanian Swamy has clearly stated in his website, “I now have further information from my usually reliable sources in the Union Government that the tapping of Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and his close associate in the Ministry, enabled Mr. Robert Vadra the son-in-law of Ms. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Karti son of Mr. P. Chidambaram, to use the data thereby collected to manipulate and rig the Mumbai stock market. Earlier these data were directly provided by the then Finance Minister Mr. Chidambaram. I demand that the SEBI be asked by PM to initiate ‘Insider Trading’ investigation and prosecution of Mr. Vadra and Mr. Karti.” If what is put out by Dr Subramanian Swamy is false why doesn’t Chidambaram sue him?, Ram Jethmalani questioned in his article.
WHAT IS CHIDAMBARAM’S RESPONSE TO THE ALLEGATIONS?
In defending his innocence, Chidambaram has claimed that neither he nor any one in his family was accused of any kind of offence and that both the ED and CBI did not file a charge sheet or FIR against anyone of them. The sources close to him also said the companies that are involved in the INX media scam are not connected to Chidambaram or his son. They also claim that there had been no money trail that is found routing the alleged kickbacks to Chidambaram.
WHAT THE DELHI HIGH COURT SAYS?
When reading out the judgment, Justice Sunil Gaur said, “Facts of the case prima facie reveal that petitioner (Chidambaram) is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case,”
AFTER CBI ARREST, DISBELIEF GRIPS CHIDAMBARAM SUPPORTERS IN HIS NATIVE TAMIL NADU VILLAGE
The former Finance Minister arrest has sent a sense of disbelief and outrage in his native village of Karaikudi in Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu. While a small section of people expressed indifference, some opposed him while some said that that the courts would render justice and the BJP-led government would be exposed for targeting “an honest gentleman”.
THE CHIDAMBARAM FAMILY TREE
73-year-old Congress leader Palaniappan Chidambaram is the son of Palaniappa Chettiar and Lakshmi Achi. His mother was the daughter of Sir Annamalai Chettiar, a prominent banker and merchant from the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu. Chidambaram’s maternal grandfather, Annamalai Chettiar, was the founder of Annamalai University. Chidambaram is married to Nalini Chidambaram, who is the daughter of former Supreme Court judge Justice (Retd.) P.S. Kailasam. Nalini is a senior advocate practicing in the Madras High Court and in the Supreme Court. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram, is a businessman who won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu. Karti is married to Dr. Srinidi Rangarajan, who is a renowned Bharathanatiyam dancer and medical doctor. The couple has a daughter, Aditi Nalini Chidambaram.
FAMILY WILL NAMES GRAND DAUGHTER AS INHERITOR OF ALL SHELL COMPANIES
The government sources said the money in the shell companies was rerouted to the Chidambaram’s family and was used by them for personal expenses. The money was allegedly rerouted to the family through P Chidambaram’s grandaughter. The shareholders and directors of the main shell company have made their Will of transferring entire shareholding of the shell company to P Chidambaram’s granddaughter and executor of the Will is Karti Chidambaram, they said. The revelation has sent shock waves as many now question that End of day, all corruption was done for but one granddaughter?!
ARREST PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON P. CHIDAMBARAM AND WIFE’S ROLE IN OTHER CASES
The arrest of former the union finance and home minister has now put the spotlight back on the other cases that the senior Congress leader is alleged to be at the centre of. Chidambaram is also in the spotlight for his alleged involvement in the Aircel- Maxis case and the Air India deal. His wife, Nalini Chidambaram, has been under the scanner for the Saradha Chit Fund Scam. Earlier this year, her name had surfaced in the Saradha chit fund scam, when the CBI charge-sheeted her for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 1.4 crores. The Air India case pertains to the purchase of 43 aircraft from Airbus and 68 from Boeing for ₹70,000 crore in 2007. The purchase order was cleared by an empowered group of ministers headed by P Chidambaram when he was finance minister. Zeba Warsia – NMTV News.