INX Media case: How was P Chidambaram interrogated by CBI?

The Asian Age.

India, All India

Chidambaram was asked the reason of not appearing before the investigating agency even after a notice was issued.

Chidambaram has been kept in the same CBI headquarters building which he inaugurated in 2011. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: After a dramatic sequence of events through the evening that led to the arrest of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram by the CBI, former finance and home minister spent an almost sleepless night at the agency headquarters as he was quizzed on Thursday about his involvement in the money laundering and corruption related to the INX Media case.

Officials involved in the investigation, requesting anonymity, said that Chidambaram's formal questioning started after 12 a.m. with CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla himself present in the headquarters along with all top agency officials. Most of Chidambaram's answers have been "ambiguous", many not "clear" and some "unanswerable".

Chidambaram has been kept in the same CBI headquarters building which he inaugurated in 2011, reported IANS.

After CBI and ED officials scaled Chidambaram's Jor Bagh residence walls and arrested the former Union Minister, he was examined by doctors from the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital once he arrived at the CBI headquarters.

The 73-year-old senior leader, the source said, refused to eat food offered by CBI, following which the crucial questioning began -- the list had 20 questions related to the case that included his meeting with Indrani Mukerjea, co-founder of INX Media.

Indrani, currently imprisoned for allegedly murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, has turned approver in the case and the case against Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram has been built on her statement, said sources.

Chidambaram was asked about his introduction to Peter and Indrani Mukerjea.

He was asked about the presence of a journalist when Indrani had met him and the role of a journalist in exchange for money.

It is learnt that Mukerjea couple had told the Enforcement Directorate that Chidambaram instructed them to help Karti in his businesses in exchange for the approval for foreign investment to INX Media.

She has reportedly informed the agency that the names of two firms -- 'Chess Management' and 'Advantage Strategic' -- were discussed as possible conduits for payments to Karti in return for regularizing alleged irregularities in foreign investment to INX media, the source said.

Chidambaram, who has been held on the ground floor guest house at the headquarters, was also asked about the alleged kickbacks received by his son Karti in exchange for allowing INX Media, a television company, to receive Rs 305 crore as foreign funds in 2007.

The seven-time Lok Sabha MP and now a Rajya Sabha member was asked whether he controlled the companies where the money was transferred.

The CBI also asked him of his active phone numbers, his whereabouts on the last two days and the number of people he met after Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea.

Chidambaram was asked the reason of not appearing before the investigating agency even after a notice was pasted at his residence on Tuesday evening.

The Congress leader was asked about the number of shell companies that belong to him and his son Karti.

The CBI sleuths asked about the money received by Karti from British Virgin Island and from the purchase of Barcelona Tennis Club and the properties in the UK, Spain, Malaysia.

As the night's questioning came to a close the other questions posted were related to INX media and shell companies.

The second round of questioning with Chidambaram started at 8 a.m. The Congress leader was asked several other key questions related to the case but the sources said that Chidambaram's answers in most of the questions were "ambiguous", many were not "clear" and some "unanswerable".

The case relates to an FIR registered by the CBI on May 15, 2017, over alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance provided to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007, when Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister.

The ED had lodged a money laundering case in this regard in 2018.

The Enforcement Directorate and the CBI are probing how Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram managed to get FIPB clearance in 2007 when his father was the Finance Minister.

Karti was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media. He was later granted bail.

His chartered accountant, S.Bhaskararaman, was also arrested and released on bail later.