The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday questioned former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Rs 3,200 crore Aircel-Maxis deal case, officials said. The senior Congress leader appeared before the investigators around 11 am in response to summons issued to him this month. This is the third time the Congress leader has joined the probe.
In its probe taken up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED questioned Chidambaram about the circumstances under which he approved the deal during his tenure as Finance Minister and about the procedures adopted by the now-defunct Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) when the deal was finalised, an ED official said requesting for anonymity.
The ED recorded Chidambaram's statement under the PMLA. The Aircel-Maxis case pertains to the grant of FIPB clearance to Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel.
The Congress leader was asked similar questions during his interrogation in June too, when he said that what he had told the agency was already recorded in government documents. He also had said that there was no FIR, yet a probe had been initiated.
Chidambaram had also accused the ED last month of launching a witch-hunt against him in the case.
The questioning is part of the ED's investigation in the case it registered in 2017 against Chidambaram's son, Karti, after taking cognisance of a 2011 FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Karti has been questioned by the ED in this case twice.
The ED and the CBI are investigating how Karti Chidambaram allegedly managed to get an FIPB clearance in the Aircel-Maxis deal when his father was Finance Minister in 2006.
The CBI last month had filed a chargesheet against 18 people in the case, naming Chidambaram and his son as accused. The chargesheet alleged that the former Finance Minister had the power to approve foreign investments only up to Rs 600 crore but he cleared the Rs 3,200-crore investment without referring the matter to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
In the chargesheet, the CBI accused him of "misusing his official position" as Finance Minister by approving the investment at his level without sending the file to the CCEA.