India: The Delhi High Court rejected the bail pleas of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on 20th Aug 2019, following which the arrest of Chidambaram is likely today. The finance minister has gone into hiding; however, the other Congress leaders have started to stand by Kingpin P Chidambaram.
Priyanka Vadra Gandhi, the Congress General Secretary have come up openly in support of Chidambaram stating
An extremely qualified and respected member of the Rajya Sabha, @PChidambaram_IN ji has served our nation with loyalty for decades including as Finance Minister & Home Minister. He unhesitatingly speaks truth to power and exposes the failures of this government,
but the truth is inconvenient to cowards so he is being shamefully hunted down. We stand by him and will continue to fight for the truth no matter what the consequences are.
The Delhi HC judge while denying P Chidambaram an anticipatory bail made remarks about Chidambaram role in the INX Media Scam. “Facts of the case prima facie reveal that the petitioner is the kingpin, that is, the key conspirator in this case,” the judge observed. The Supreme Court refused to give an urgent hearing to his case, P Chidambaram has gone into hiding.
Palaniappan Chidambaram was Finance Minister starting in May 2004 through 2014, except for a three and a half year stint – beginning November 2008 – as Home Minister. Chidambaram returned as Finance Minister in July 2012, succeeding Pranab Mukherjee, who demitted office to become the President of India.
A battery of lawyers are up and fighting for P Chidambaram
The INX Media Scam and what let to P. Chidambaram to abscond
- In 2007, INX Media, which was owned by Peter and Indrani Mukherjee received foreign investment of about Rs 300 crores. For that INX Media needed clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, under the UPA, led by Congress.
- CBI, in its FIR, had alleged that FIPB regulations were violated. The FIPB norms allowed INX to receive only 4.62 crores, but INX violated the conditions and raised foreign direct investments worth Rs 305 crores by issuing shares to foreign investors.
- P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister when the FIPB proposal was cleared for INX Media and Karti allegedly used his influence in the Ministry not only in clearing the proposal but also in manipulating a tax probe against it.
- INX made payments to Advantage Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd (Advantage India) and its subsidiary Advantage Singapore.
- According to a series of exposes made by S Gurumuthy in the New Indian Express, Karti Chidambaram owned almost two-thirds of Advantage from 2006 to 2011. Karti has been denying the allegations. Karti owned Advantage through Ausbridge Holdings and Investments Private Limited (Ausbridge) which Karti allegedly owned almost entirely.
- Karti allegedly transferred the ownership of Ausbridge to his close friend and aide Mohanan Rajesh because the Media has been probing his links to these companies and apparent conflicts of interest shown by the Finance Ministry.
- Out of the five lakh shares of Advantage India, three lakh shares (or 60% ownership) were held in the names of four persons – C B N Reddy, (211430 shares), Padma and Ravi Viswanathan (32600 shares) and Bhaskar Raman (17400 shares). All the four are Karti’s close associates, allegedly even called his ‘Benaamis’. According to the same reports Advantage Ltd has its presence in at least 20 countries. In fact, Bhaskararaman was considered extremely crucial to the case. The ED submitted that it was necessary to detain and question him to establish a trail of proceeds of crime, and also get information from him that was in his exclusive knowledge.
- In August last year, Karti was confronted with the above persons including Mohanan Rajesh and they were grilled by the agency for hours. In January 2018, Karti was again questioned for several hours by ED after avoiding summons twice. Karti’s aide, and the family’s CA, S Bhaskar Raman was arrested by CBI in February 2018. Indrani Mukherjee had also reportedly admitted before ED that her company had bribed Karti. Indrani Mukherjea and Peter Mukherjea, as submitted by ED in court, siphoned off GBP 90 million which is suspected to have gone overseas through the Hawal route and later on, INX Media filed an application before FIPB for permission to receive funds from foreign investors.
- Karti’s involvement and favorable clearances by FIPB are also being probed in the Aircel- Maxis scam. Both the scams have taken place while P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.
A 6-member CBI team arrived at P. Chidambaram’s Jorbagh residence only to find that he is missing.