ED files money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, others
New Delhi: Troubles have begun to mount for former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti, with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registering a money laundering case against him on Friday.
The agency registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), which is the ED’s equivalent of a first information report (FIR), against those named in a complaint filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday night.
Those named included Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, and “unknown officials of the finance ministry”.
The ECIR has been registered under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED said.
“We will probe the alleged proceeds of crime and alleged kickbacks generated in this case and will take the investigations forward from there,” said a senior ED official on condition of anonymity.
Karti left for London on Thursday night. His office maintained that he had “gone on work and would be back by the end of May”.
Senior ED officials said that Karti would be sent summons soon in the matter.
The fresh case comes just two days after CBI raided 14 premises across Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai connected to Karti and the former INX Media bosses.
CBI had also filed an FIR that named Karti. It alleged that he received kickbacks from the media house while his father was the finance minister. This was allegedly in return for the latter’s help in getting the finance ministry to overlook irregularities at the company.
Specifically, INX Media crossed the approved limit of foreign direct investment (FDI) by several hundred crores and “made a downstream investment to the tune of 26% of its capital”, according to Vineet Vinayak, joint director of CBI.
While both father and son rejected the allegations, brushing them aside as “mere political vendetta”, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said that investigation agencies were only doing their job.
“It is one more step in the ongoing case against the accused, and the accused will now have to defend himself in the court of law. Besides legal defence, the Congress party and its leaders owe answers to the public. Merely stating that the case is politically motivated appears to be weak defence since the case seems to be watertight,” said G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, BJP spokesperson.
This is Karti’s second run-in with the ED after the agency on 18 April sought an explanation from him and a company in which he had invested, for alleged violations of foreign exchange laws.
ED looked at investments in Vasan Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, including those where existing shareholders sold shares to the investors (these are called secondary investments or sales), through the lens of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
Gyan Varma contributed to this story.