CBI names Congressman and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram as a co-accused in Aircel-Maxis case

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s ill-timed affirmations made on Twitter a short while ago, saying that “In the Aircel-Maxis case, there is no FIR mentioning a scheduled offence and no public servant has been named. ED is on a witch-hunt and the allegations will be answered in Court,” has fallen flat as recent media reports confirm that the former finance minister and a Congressmen is now an accused in the Aircel-Maxis case.

The senior Congress leader, his son Karti and 16 others have been charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the probe into suspected criminal misconduct related to approvals of investment deals.

This news comes as a big jolt to the Congress a day before the Lok-Sabha will witness a no-confidence vote against a ruling dispensation in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, as the name of the Congress Veteran and his son Karti Chidambaram, appear in the fresh chargesheet related to the Aircel-Maxis case.

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The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate are investigating the foreign investment clearance granted in 2006 for the Aircel-Maxis deal when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister in the Congress-led UPA government at the centre.

According to the CBI, Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings – a subsidiary of Maxis – sought approval for an investment of 800 million dollars in telecom carrier Aircel. The approval was expected to come from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or CCEA, headed by the Prime Minister. But it came from the then finance ministry, which only has the power to approve investments of smaller sums, up to Rs. 600 crore.

The agency alleged that after the approval was received, Aircel Televentures Limited paid a sum of 26 lakh to a company linked to Karti Chidambaram.

Subramanian Swamy, the anti-corruption crusader, and Rajya Sabha MP who has been very vocal slamming the Chidambaram’s for the fraudulence and had openly posted his reactions to the CBI raids, saying that Chidambaram indeed gave illegal FIPB clearances during his tenure as the finance minister and used his office to help promote his son Karti’s dubious business interests, exhibited extreme delight, as this news surfaced during the day.

Last month the enforcement directorate had filed a charge sheet against Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram at Delhi’s Patiala House Court. According to reports, four other associates in his different business ventures are also charged under section 4 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Until this day though P Chidambaram’s name had appeared in various instances, he had not been named as an accused yet. Though the ED had specifically stated then that it might file a supplementary charge sheet in the case too.

The scam-ridden former Union Minister P. Chidambaram had moved an anticipatory bail plea at Patiala House Court in the Aircel-Maxis case at the end of May 2018. Following that, Delhi’s Patiala House Court has sought a reply from Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the anticipatory bail plea. Court had also given time to the ED to reply till 5th June and no coercive action could be taken against Chidambaram till then.

This year has not started well for the Chidambaram’s, with the father-son duo landing themselves in a catch-22 situation, with crises not seeming to seize for them and their family members. In the month of May, the Income Tax Department had filed four prosecution complaints against Karti Chidambaram, his mother Nalini and wife Srinidhi in a Chennai court. According to reports, the cases were filed under the Black Money Act.

The Chennai and Delhi homes of former Union minister P Chidambaram were raided by a team of Enforcement Directorate earlier this year in connection with the money laundering investigation in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

Interestingly, with the departments, probing the Aircel-Maxis case, including P Chidambaram in the list of accused, it so seems that the father-son duo is giving tough competition to each other with Karti already facing probe and currently on bail in the INX Media case and also under probe in the Aircel-Maxis case.

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