INX Media case: CBI gets one-day custody of Karti Chidambaram, he says not a ‘Hindustan Leaver’
Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, is accused of using his influence in the finance ministry to help INX Media get approval for foreign investments from three Mauritius-based investors.Updated: Feb 28, 2018 20:22 IST
Businessman Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union minister P Chidambaram, was sent to one-day police custody by a CBI court in Delhi on Wednesday, hours after his arrest at Chennai airport in a corruption case.
The CBI, which sought 15 days’ custody of Karti, told the court of metropolitan judge Sumit Anand that he was arrested because he had not cooperated with investigators.
“Karti Chidambaram is evasive in his replies…He made incorrect statements with respect to evidence. All this delays conclusion of investigation,” the CBI said.
The agency also claimed that on February 17, an accused recorded a statement in front of a magistrate stating that Karti Chidambaram demanded $1 million in foreign currency to settle the INX case.
The 46-year-old is accused of using his influence in the finance ministry to help INX Media get approval for foreign investments from three Mauritius-based investors. His father was the finance minister then.
“I should have been a Hindustan Leaver like the others,” Karti told the court, apparently referring to businessmen Vijay Mallya, Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi — who are accused of financial crimes and have left the country.
The Congress, in a press conference, accused PM Narendra Modi and his ministers for the “political witch-hunt”.
Karti’s lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, rubbished the investigative agency’s notion as “bizarre, fake”.
“Karti was interrogated for 22 hours when he was summoned. They had no questions left,” Singhvi told the court. “He returned whenever he travelled abroad, so why is CBI telling the court that they fear Karti won’t return?”
Singhvi added that the CBI has neither filed status reports nor questioned any of the secretaries of FIPB whom they claimed Karti had influenced. “The chairman of FIPB at the time of the INX deal became the governor of the RBI. He too wasn’t questioned,” he said.
INX Media allegedly received approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for Rs 4.62 crore investment but received Rs 305 crore by sale of shares at a premium of Rs 800 per share instead of Rs 10 as mentioned by the company in its application.
The CBI alleges that after the income tax department started investigating, INX Media roped in Karti’s company called Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd “to get the issues resolved” by influencing officials of the FIPB.
On his way to court, Karti told the media his arrest was “absolutely, political vendetta”.
The Congress too described Karti’s arrest as vendetta and a move to divert attention from the alleged Rs 12,636 crore Punjab National Bank fraud in which billionaire jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are accused.
“Classical diversionary tactic to hide Scams & Colossal Corruption that is being exposed on a daily basis, be it NiMo+Choksi, D.D. Jewellers and Rotomac. Modi Govt continues it’s vendetta against Sh. P. Chidambaram. Won’t deter the Congress from bringing the truth to the people,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
Karti’s arrest followed months of investigation and gathering of incriminating evidence, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.
“The facts in this case clearly show how private gains were made by perpetrating fraud by subversion of governmental processes and abuse of public office. This is a textbook case of financial fraud,” he said.