Aircel Maxis case: ED raids Karti Chidambaram’s premises in Chennai and Delhi
India’s financial crime investigation agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), on Saturday conducted searches at multiple places linked to a probe involving P Chidambaram’s son Karti in the Aircel- Maxis case.
The raids were conducted at four places in Chennai and a few in Delhi, including the senior Congress leader’s residence in the capital’s Jorbagh. A chartered accountant and Karti’s personal assistant were also raided by ED sleuths.
The central probe agency, on December 1 last year, conducted similar searches on the premises of a relative of Karti and others in the case that deals with allegations that P Chidambaram did not follow protocol to approve a Rs 600-crore deal between telecom player Aircel and the Malaysia-headquartered Maxis group in 2006.
The ED alleges that Karti received kickbacks for facilitating the investment to flow into India from the Maxis group.
The agency says that Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval was granted by the former finance minister though he was authorised to approve project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore. Beyond that he required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
ED officials with knowledge of Saturday’s raids said the raids yielded incriminating documents and computer hard disks.
Chidambaram, however, dismissed the raids as a “comedy of errors”.
“Since they had the search warrant, I did not raise any objections to the search but I said I will record my protest that there is no FIR in respect of the scheduled crime registered by any investigating agency including the CBI,” the former minister said.
ED officials said said that both CBI and ED have filed FIRs in the Aircel-Maxis case.
“The initial probe into Aircel-Maxis was to see if there was a forced sale of Aircel to the Maxis Group. But we have informed the courts that other angles in the case are also under probe. This case involving Karti is one such angle,” said an ED officer.
The directorate is also probing other allegations of money laundering against Karti in a 2007 sale of stakes in INX Media to offshore entities. INX media was founded by Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani, both of whom are facing trial for allegedly murdering her daughter from a previous relationship.
In past few months, Karti has failed to appear before the agency for questioning. ED recently issued another summon for him to appear before it on January 16.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the ED raids were aimed at diverting “attention” of the people following press conference by four Supreme Court judges who accused chief justice of India of abuse of power.