Raid are being conducted in about 15 location across the country.
Close on the heels of several I-T raids on high-value targets in the country, the CBI is now conducting raids at the homes, offices and several other locations linked to Karti Chidambaram and his father, former Union Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram, according to TV reports.
According to media reports, the raids are being conducted in about 15 locations across the country. NDTV reports that the raids are to do with a particular deal which involved required permissions being given to a TV channel, and that the deal was linked to Indrani Mukherjee and her company INX Media.
INX Media operated channels like NewsX, 9X and 9X Music.
The allegations are that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) cleared the deal at a much lower value at the behest of Karti Chidambaram. 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, according to NDTV. The CBI is also investigating a money trail and the bribe allegedly given to Karti.
According to media reports quoting CBI sources, on Sept 22, 2008, Kartiâ€™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 were allegedly paid to ASCPLâ€™s Singapore subsidiary by INX Media. The CBI is investigating if these transactions were the kickbacks for necessary FIPB permissions for foreign investments in the media company.
An FIR has been registered by CBI against INX Media through its then Director Indrani Mukherjea, INX News through its then Director Pratim Mukherjea, Peter Mukherjea and others, Karti Chidambaram, Chess Management Services Private Ltd through its Director Karti Chidambaram , Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Ltd through its Director Padma Vishwanathan, Padma Bhaskararaman, and others. The FIR has also been filed against unknown officials of the Finance Ministry. All accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating, taking gratification, in order by corrupt or illegal means to influence public servant and criminal misconduct.
P Chidambaram statement
The involvement of P Chidambaram is also being investigated, since he was a Union Minister then. Reacting to the CBI raids, the former Finance Minister issued a statement hitting out at the Centre. "The government, using the CBI and other agencies, is targeting my son and his friends. The 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 the opposition parties, journalists, columnists, NGOs and civil society organisations. All I will say is I shall continue to speak and write."
He also pointed out that thre are no allegations against the five secretaries that constitute the FIPB, the officials of the FIPB Secretariat and public officials. There were no allegations against him either. Chidambaram added that every case was processed according to law and approval was granted or refused in accordance with the recommendations of the FIPB.
The Union Minister and his son Karti have been at the eye of similar controversies in the past, including allegedly laundering money through Vasan Eye Care group.