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INX Media scam: Chidambaram was involved in money laundering, directed firms to help Karti’s business interests, says ED charge-sheet

In the charge-sheet, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had directed former INX Media promoters to "help" his son's business interests.

On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate listed details of investments made by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram from the alleged proceeds of corruption in the INX media scam, reported Times of India.

In its charge-sheet filed against former finance minister P Chidambaram, his son Karti, their chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman and others, the ED stated that the investments increased nearly ten times from Rs 6.5 crore to Rs 65.9 crore in a matter of months. The ED alleged that the accused P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram had received money as gratification from INX Media.

“INX Media Pvt Ltd had made payments of Rs 6.5 crore, detected till date, to several shell companies of Karti P Chidambaram in India and outside India. The first illegal gratification of Rs 3 crore was made through Span Fibre and Satyam Fibre to ASCPL, Kriya and CBNPMC, the companies, beneficially owned by Karti as part of P Chidambaram’s direction,” the charge-sheet noted.

In the charge-sheet, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had directed former INX Media promoters to “help” his son’s business interests. The central probe agency said that the 75-year-old Congress leader was “very much involved” with his son and MP Karti Chidambaram in the process of money laundering.

Chidambaram was involved in companies owned by Karti, says ED charge-sheet

As per ED, the accused P Chidambaram was “involved” in the working of the companies beneficially owned by Karti, some of which have also been made accused in the case. The ED said it had recovered emails from seized digital devices that reveals how Karti consulted his father regarding matters related to a company “beneficially owned” by him in the past – Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL).

The charge-sheet said that the first instalment of the “illegal gratification” received from INX Media, Karti’s firm Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Limited (ASCPL), invested Rs 1.5 crore in purchasing 1.5 lakh shares of Vasan Health Care. Later, ASCPL sold 30,000 shares of Vasan Health Care to Sequoia (SCI-GIH) for Rs 22.2 crore, while another 36,245 shares were sold to Vasan Medical Hall for Rs 18.6 crore.

The accused gained a income of Rs 29.4 crore through the proceeds of sales, generating a profit of Rs 18.4 crore, the ED claimed. Most of these transactions happened in a span of two years. The accrued income and two other instalments of money received from INX Media, the “proceeds of crime” of Karti controlled shell firms reached Rs 65.9 crore, the ED claimed.

The charge-sheet claimed that these proceeds were laundered by “investing in properties outside India” through a subsidiary, ASCSPL, raised in Singapore. Karti purchased Surridge Farm in London and Gava Club in Spain from the proceeds of crime, the ED said.

A special court also took cognisance of the charge-sheet on Wednesday. The court has asked Chidambaram and his son to be present in court on April 7 when charges will be framed. Meanwhile, Congress leader Chidambaram has denied the ED’s charges and claimed that the summons was a routine court process.

INX Media scam:

P Chidambaram is accused in the INX Media scam, which involves charges of bribery and lobbying in granting foreign investments worth over Rs 300 crores to INX Media. INX Media, later known as NewsX, was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjee of the sensational Sheena Bora murder case. Chidambaram is accused of misusing his power as the finance minister to grant INX Media an FIPB clearance.

The former Union minister was arrested by the CBI after a high-level drama where CBI officials had to scale the walls of his residence on August 21, 2019. Later, the ED had taken custody of Chidambaram on October 17, 2019, before his bail order came for the CBI case. The Congress leader and his son are currently out on bail.

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