P Chidambaram is currently in CBI custody till August 26 in the INX Media case. (File Photo)
News Nation has accessed a confidential report of the Enforcement Directorate that reveals details of P Chidambaram’s meeting with then INX Media owners Peter Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea. The report which carries crucial details of a payment made to Advantage Strategic Consultancy, a firm linked to P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram.
The details of the payment were revealed by ED’s Joint Director Rajeshwar Singh in a letter sent to CBI on December 16, 2016. In the letter, it was told that a cheque of Rs 9,96,296 was given to Advantage Strategic Consultancy on the directions of Chase Management Services.
The cheque (002914) was issued on July 15, 2007. This was the time when INX Media was trying to get Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance and the Mukerjea couple had met then finance minister P Chidambaram, seeking his intervention in the matter. INX Media’s managing director and CFO had given written statements to the ED in which they admitted that the money was paid to the consultancy for the FIPB clearance. News Nation has the copy of their statements.
The Enforcement Directorate also has copies of four invoices sent by various companies, including firms registered on foreign soils, to the firm linked to Karti Chidambaram on directions of the Chase Management Services. The foreign companies were asked to make the payment in US dollar. Geben Trading Limited, a company registered in Athens in Greece had paid 5 million dollars on September 26, 2008.
On September 24, 2008, an invoice of 20,000 dollars was sent to INX Media by Singapore-registered Advantage Strategic Consultancy. An invoice of Rs 35 lakh was sent to the INX Media by Advantage Strategic Consultancy on September 22, 2008, while another worth Rs 60 lakh was sent by Northstar Software on September 26, 2008.
The then CFO of the INX Media also told ED that the payments were not made from the account of the company. He didn’t know from which account the money was paid. However, he said the firm – Chase Management Services – had sent e-mails to INX Media regarding the payments. News Nation also has the copies of the e-mails.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also registered an FIR against P Chidambaram after the ED’s recommendation based on the evidence they have. Statements of finance department officials are also there in the report. The main offences against the former finance minister, who is in CBI custody till August 26, revolves around illegal FIPB approvals given by him in several cases as well as receipt of kickbacks by him in lieu of the alleged illegal clearance.
The Enforcement Directorate claimed that Chidambaram had given “illegals FIPB approvals” to several firms, including the INX Media, Aircel Maxis, Essar Steel Ltd., Elforge Ltd., Katara Holdings and Diageo Scotland Ltd. The CBI is now investigating the alleged illegal FIPB approvals by P Chidambaram in the exchange of kickbacks paid to various shell companies floated by his son Karti Chidambaram on the names of his employees and other business associates.
In one of the shell companies linked to Karti Chidambaram, payments worth Rs 300 crore were made. The ED, meanwhile, is probing the alleged money laundering of the kickbacks and its investment in movable and immovable assets in India and other foreign countries.