Chennai: The Madras High Court Friday dismissed a batch of petitions by a consulting firm allegedly linked to Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, challenging the “freezing” of its bank accounts by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.
Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana rejected the batch of petitions filed by Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, observing that the company cannot approach the high court directly without exhausting other remedies.
He said the complaint filed under Section 5(5) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) had been adjudicated upon and the order of the Enforcement Directorate freezing the accounts had been confirmed by the adjudicating authority.
“The petitioner has to challenge the order of the adjudicating authority before the Appellate Tribunal in accordance with the law and these writ petitions have no merit,” the judge said.
The ED has attached assets worth Rs 54 crore of Karti Chidambaram in India, the UK and Spain in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.
Fixed deposits worth Rs 90 lakh, kept in a bank in Chennai, in the name of the petitioner company have also been attached.
The ED registered the money laundering case on the basis of a CBI FIR and had alleged that irregularities took place in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when P Chidambaram was was the Union finance minister.
The company, in its petition, submitted that the ED had on 24 September 2018 directed branch managers of three banks not to allow any debit from the current accounts of the company without obtaining prior permission.
Contending that the ED’s directive was illegal, without the authority of law and arbitrary, it wanted the court to quash the order and permit the petitioner to operate the accounts.
The petitioner further contended that the ED had no jurisdiction to investigate the alleged offence under the PMLA in relation to INX Media deal and hence the communication sent by the agency to the bankers for freezing its accounts was without authority of law.