New Delhi: Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, was today arrested by the CBI in connection with its probe in the INX media case, officials here said.
Karti was taken into custody by a team of CBI officials at the Chennai airport on his return from the United Kingdom, they said.
After completing necessary formalities, the 46-year-old Karti was put on a domestic flight to the national capital where he would be produced before a designated court in the late afternoon.
The agency had summoned Karti for questioning earlier but he had sought stay orders from various courts
An FIR filed by the CBI on 15 May last year had alleged irregularities 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. It is alleged Karti had received funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh in the case, they said.
The CBI alleged Karti also received money from INX media to scuttle a tax probe. The firm was owned at the time by Peter and Indrani Mukherjee, who is currently in jail on charges of murdering Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.
The Enforcement Directorate has also registered a money laundering case.
The CBI and the ED had carried out a series of raids on the houses and offices owned by the Chidambarams. Karti Chidambaram was questioned several times by the ED.
A lookout notice, which prevents a passenger from travelling abroad, was issued against him as the agencies suspected that he would try to close the foreign accounts where he had parked the money from the kickbacks. In November, the Supreme Court allowed Karti Chidambaram to go to the UK for his daughter’s admission to the Cambridge University.
His father was not available for comments but had earlier denied the involvement of his son in any case.
The CBI is also probing the alleged irregularities in grant of the FIPB clearance to the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.
The arrest of Karti drew angry reactions from the Congress party which labelled his arrest as “vendetta” and “diversionary tactic” by the Modi government to hide its scams and “mal-governance”.
Karti Chidambaram’s arrest would not deter the party from speaking the truth to hold the government accountable, the party’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said.
According to the CBI, INX Media clearly states in its records that Rs 10 lakh was given to Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Limited, a firm “indirectly” owned by Karti, for management consultancy charged towards FIPB notification and clarification.
The FIR also alleges that invoices of approximately Rs 3.5 crore were raised in favour of INX group in the name of other companies in which Karti had substantial interests “directly or indirectly”.
The agency has registered an FIR against Karti, his company Chess Management Services, the Mukerjeas, INX Media, Advantage Strategic Consulting Services and its Director Padma Vishwanathan.
The allegations levelled by the CBI are based on the information given by “source”, the FIR has claimed.
INX Media was seeking investment from Mauritius, an official explained.
The investment was allowed by the FIPB board and the then Finance Minister with the condition that only Rs 4.62 crore could be received and for investment in INX News Pvt Ltd, a separate proposal was required.
The company allegedly violated the conditions set by the FIPB and received investment to the tune of 26% in the capital of INX News which included foreign investment.
It allegedly generated more than Rs 305 crore of FDI in INX Media against the approved inflow of Rs 4.62 crore by issuing shares to foreign investors at a premium of more than Rs 800 per share.
The violation prompted an Income Tax department probe. INX Media claimed that the investment was done as per FIPB conditions.
In order to wriggle out of the situation without any punitive action, INX Media entered into criminal conspiracy with Karti whose father was the Finance Minister of the country, the agency alleged.
It said officials, by virtue of the influence, exercised over them by Karti, not only allegedly ignored serious illegalities on the part of INX Media but also showed undue favours by abusing their official position and advised the company to file for fresh clearance.