New Delhi: Former finance minister P. Chidambaram, arrested in the INX Media case by the CBI on Wednesday, is likely to be taken to Byculla Jail in Mumbai for a face-to-face confrontation with Indrani Mukerjea, who is also facing charges of murdering her daughter Sheena Bora.
During the CBI interrogation during the last 24 hours, Mr Chidambaram has reportedly refused to recall any meeting with Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in March-April 2007 over the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the foreign investment in INX Media.
“If required, the agency may also do a lie-detector test on the former minister after taking permission from the competent court”, a senior CBI official said.
Indrani, a former director of INX Media, is lodged in Byculla Jail and has already turned approver. In her statement to the Enforcement Directorate, Indrani allegedly claimed that she and her husband Peter Mukerjea had met Mr Chidambaram at his office in New Delhi’s North Block. “Peter had started the conversation with Mr P. Chidambaram referring to the application of INX Media for bringing in FDI and handed a copy of the application to the former finance minister,” Indrani told the ED. Mr Chidambaram then allegedly told Peter to “help his son Karti in his business and make possible overseas remittances in lieu of FIPB approval”, the statement claimed.
Peter, in his statement to the ED, claimed he along with his wife “met Karti along with another person, who allegedly was mediating between the two, at a hotel in Delhi”. The issue at hand was to regularise the over-invested amount as FDI. Peter maintained that he met Karti to “work this out” and get fresh FIPB approvals. Karti allegedly demanded $1 million. When told that this was not possible, Karti suggested that payments could be made to companies allegedly linked to him These included Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd and Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL). Peter apparently told the ED that the amount of `10 lakhs paid to ASCPL by INX Media was linked to Karti and was a part of the $1 million demanded by the former minister’s son.
The CBI is apparently collected evidence to prove that the meetings between the former finance minister, his son and the Mukerjeas had taken place and Rs 10 lakhs (the first part of $1 million) was transferred to ASCPL.
The CBI and ED have also gathered evidence to substantiate charges that Mr Chidambaram and his son Karti were the “beneficial owners” of several shell firms that have been incorporated both in India and abroad. “The ED has come across evidence where alleged illegal deposits of over `300 crores were made in a single shell firm after purported kickbacks were received by Mr Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram in lieu of granting illegal FIPB and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) approvals to several other firms”, a source said.
The four firms granted FIPB approvals, allegedly by Mr Chidambaram, included Diageo Scotland Ltd, Katara Holdings, Essar Steel Ltd and Elforge Ltd.
The ED has apparently found the alleged kickbacks received by the father and son through shell firms were used to open foreign bank accounts. The ED and CBI have linked the former finance minister and his son with the acquisition of multiple immovable assets in Malaysia, Britain, Spain and some other countries.