More skeletons tumble out of Chidambarams – school teacher made dummy director in company

As the investigative agencies dig the details into the dubious business operations undertaken by former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti-owned Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL), more skeletons are tumbling out of the closet.

According to reports, the Enforcement Directorate investigation has found that a certain Padma Bhaskararaman – a school teacher – was made the promoter and director of the ASCPL in order to conceal the real identity of people controlling the business. This has been revealed in a report prepared by the ED.

Padma is the wife of Karti’s close aide S Bhaskararaman, another director of ASCPL. It has been further revealed that Padma’s brother Ravi was also projected as promoter of ASCPL to conceal Karti’s identity. The Enforcement Directorate probe suggests that all directors of ASCPLCBN Reddy, Ravi Vishwanathan and S Bhakararaman – acted as per the instructions from Karti. And it was S Bhaskararaman who played an extensive role in the day to day affairs of ASCPL.

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It could be noted that Meera Arun, wife of CMD of Vasan Health Care Pvt Ltd AM Arun –had earlier admitted that she was a dummy director in Vasan Health Care. Meera had admitted that her shares were transferred to her father V Dwarkanathan. Dwarkanathan’s 15,000 shares were reportedly sold to Karti Chidambaram’s ASCPL at a rate of Rs 100 per share.

AM Arun had admitted before the investigation agency that while he was looking to expand the eye care business and required foreign funding for the same and it was Karti Chidambaram who had recommended to him an investment consultancy company called M/s Spark Capital Advisors. There are allegations that Karti had used Vasan Healthcare to launder black money. The enforcement directorate (ED) has served notices on Vasan Health Care and Karti Chidambaram for breach of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Karti Chidambaram’s ASCPL is currently under scanner in connection to the violation of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval given to INX Media – owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea – during the tenure of P Chidambaram as the finance minister. The CBI on 16 May had conducted raids at the residences of P Chidambaram and son Karti and multiple premises at Chennai, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Delhi linked to the father-son duo.

INX Media had sought the FIPB clearance on March 13, 2007, for permission to issue upto 14.98 equity shares to three non-resident entities – Dunearn, NSR PE and New Veron Pvt Equity Ltd – by way of preferential allotment. The FIPB unit, however, had clearly mentioned that Foreign Direct Investment of Rs 4.62 crore proposed issue at the face value could be allowed and for investment in INX News a separate FIPB approval would be required. The board had recommended the proposal of INX Media for consideration of the Finance Minister but not that of INX News.

It has been alleged that the company in violation of the recommendations made investment to the tune of 26 per cent in the capital of INX News and generated more than Rs 305 crore of FDI in INX Media. It is further alleged that Karti received money from INX Media for using his influence to manipulate a tax probe against it in a case of violation of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) conditions to receive investment from Mauritius.

Now, the Enforcement Directorate is preparing to launch a money laundering probe against Karti Chidambaram. Meanwhile, Karti has left for London in a “scheduled trip”. Hope he won’t do a Vijay Mallya.

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