May 14, 2012: Then home minister P Chidambaram tells Parliament: “It would be much simpler if somebody took a dagger and plunged it into my heart, rather than questioning my integrity.” The provocation for this dramatic denial? The first allegations of links between the minister’s son Karti and the till-then-obscure firm Advantage, in connection with illegal payoffs related to the Aircel-Maxis deal.
June 19, 2013: Four directors —CBN Reddy, S Bhaskaraman, Ravi Viswanathan and V Padma — of Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, Kriya FMCG Distributors Private Limited, and Rochester Technology Solutions Private Limited execute wills, bequeathing their entire holdings in their firms to Aditi Chidambaram, Karti’s daughter. All four wills name Karti as the “executor of the will”, thus ensuring the ultimate transfer of Advantage’s global wealth to the grand-daughter of the former home minister.
The foreign assets of Advantage Strategic are held by its Singapore-based wholly owned subsidiary Advantage Strategic Singapore. According to the terms of the wills, 60% of Advantage Strategic will be owned by Karti’s family. The remaining will be owned by Ausbridge Holdings, once 95% owned by Karti, which was later transferred at a discount to Mohanan Rajesh, alleged to be his close associate.
These wills are among a cache of documents recovered by a joint Income Tax-Enforcement Directorate probe into Karti Chidambaram. The probe has gathered evidence that Karti’s businesses span 22 countries in the form of estates, sports academies, hotels and apartments.
Karti Chidambaram did not respond to text messages or telephone calls. “The contents in the will establish that Karti Chidambaram’s family is the real owner of these shares and the assets held by the company,” says the income tax report.
Other documents recovered from the office of Karti Chidambaram and Advantage point out that the latter received consultancy fees from companies that had applied to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board at a time it came under then finance minister P Chidambaram. One bank account of Advantage Strategic with Development Credit Bank (A/c 06020100003711) reveals the scale of its operations: Rs 151.31 crore of transactions since 2005-06.