Karti Chidambaram refuses to appear before CBI in Aircel Maxis case

Karti's lawyer Arun Natarajan informed the agency that a special court had discharged all the accused in the matter.
Karti Chidambaram refuses to appear before CBI in Aircel Maxis case
Karti Chidambaram refuses to appear before CBI in Aircel Maxis case
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Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, on Thursday refused to appear before the CBI in connection with a case related to FIPB clearance in 2006 in the Aircel Maxis deal when his father was Finance Minister.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in its summons issued on Wednesday, had asked Karti Chidambaram to appear at its headquarters in the CGO complex in south Delhi's Lodhi Road area for questioning today (Thursday). 

In his written response through a courier service, Karti's lawyer Arun Natarajan informed the agency that his client would not present himself for questioning as directed, saying a special court had discharged all the accused in the matter.

Natarajan said the response had been sent through fax and email also. 

"All proceedings connected with the said (case)... were also terminated," the response said.

It said after the discharge of the accused and "termination" of the proceedings, the CBI will not have jurisdiction to issue summons in connection with the case.

In its response, the CBI said its summons to Karti was "valid" and his claim on quashing of proceedings by the court was "wrong".

The CBI said an appeal was made in the High Court in May against Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran, and two companies discharged by a trial court. 

The CBI said its investigation on points mentioned in its chargesheet continued, including Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance on a quid pro quo basis. "The proceeding in the trial court is on. Karti's claim that the case has been quashed is wrong."

"Four individuals and four companies were charge-sheeted. An Interpol notice against two Malaysian individuals and two Malaysian companies has been issued. So, the investigation in the case is still on and Karti was summoned as part of the ongoing probe," a CBI official said. 

The CBI wants to question Karti over the alleged money laundering through his firms in the Aircel-Maxis tie-up in 2008, the official said.

The summons come days after Karti Chidambaram was directed by the Supreme Court to present himself before the CBI in relation to the INX Media case, wherein he was accused of securing FIPB clearance for certain FDI investment. 

According to the CBI charge sheet submitted in a special court, Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for an investment of $800 million in Aircel.

Though it was the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was competent to grant the approval, it was cleared by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram. 

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy had alleged that Chidambaram then had tweaked FIPB norms for clearing the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006. 

Seeking a probe into the role of P Chidambaram, Swamy had referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General's 2015 report that pointed to two alleged illegalities.

According to Swamy, the CAG cited the illegality of FIPB approving Maxis' acquisition of 93.3 per cent stake in Aircel Tele Ventures Ltd through its wholly-owned subsidiary, the GCSHL, well in excess of the then ceiling of 74 per cent investment by a foreign entity.

The second illegality, Swamy said, was that since the foreign investment in Aircel was more than Rs 600 crore, it should have gone to the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs for approval but was cleared by the FIPB.

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