Karti Chidambaram controlled firm that got Rs 26 lakh funds in Aircel-Maxis deal: ED

NEW DELHI: Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Union finance minister P Chidambaram, controlled "each and every aspect" of Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited (ASCPL) which received Rs 26 lakh as alleged bribe in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate has claimed in its chargesheet against him and others filed before a Delhi court on Wednesday.

The charge sheet, which is part of the 2G spectrum allocation case, has been filed against Karti Chidambaram, Advantage Strategic Consultancies Private Limited, Chess Management Services Pvt. Ltd. (CMSPL) and a few others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

"ASCPL was set up at the directions of Karti Chidambaram and was controlled by him," the ED said in the charge sheet.

It said Karti Chidambaram also "arranged the funds for setting up" the company.

"The affairs of ASCPL were managed by Karti and internal e-mails show the control of Karti over each and every aspect of the business of ASCPL," it said.

It claimed that ASCPL "received" about Rs 26 lakh from Aircel Televenture Ltd, the Indian company, which sold shares to Maxis.

"This payment was received immediately after FDI approval," the ED said in the charge sheet indicating alleged quid pro quo or bribe.

The charge sheet said Maxis had "invested USD 800 million (Rs 3,565.91 crore) as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)."

"The authority of finance minister to give approval for FDI was limited to Rs 600 crore at the relevant time. The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) was the competent authority for FDI proposals of over Rs 600 crore.

"In this case, FDI was projected as Rs 180 crore which was the par value of the shares acquired by Maxis, whereas the FDI was actually Rs 3,565.91 crore," it said.

The ED said that the other firm listed as accused in the charge sheet -- CMSPL -- was "a company promoted by Karti (the son of the then finance minister who gave the approval without having competence) received a sum of about Rs 90 lakh from Maxis and its associate Malaysian companies allegedly for software services".

"The software sold for Rs 90 lakh was designed to be used for compliance with Indian laws and was not of any use for a Malaysian company," it said.

The agency has questioned and recorded the statement of Karti in this case at least twice.

The FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March 2006 by P Chidambaram even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and beyond that it required the approval of the CCEA, the ED had said.

The agency had earlier said its probe had revealed that the case of the FDI was "wrongly projected as an investment of Rs 180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny".

In September last year, the ED had attached assets worth Rs 1.16 crore of Karti and ASCPL in this case. The ED, in 2016, had filed a charge sheet in this case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and four others.

However, the court later discharged them last year in both the ED and the CBI cases pertaining to the Aircel-Maxis deal. The two agencies subsequently had appealed against this order before the Delhi High Court.

The ED had on Tuesday questioned P Chidambaram for the second time in this case.

The Supreme Court had on March 12 directed investigating agencies -- the CBI and the ED -- to complete their probe into the 2G spectrum allocation cases, including the Aircel-Maxis alleged money laundering case, in six months.

 

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PTI