Aircel-Maxis case: CBI names P Chidambaram and his son in new chargesheet
19 July 2018
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today filed fresh charges in connection with the Aircel-Maxis case, which lists senior Congress leader P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram as accused.
In its new chargesheet, filed in Delhi's Patiala House Court, CBI said it has discovered two sets of money trails regarding Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance. The chargesheet names some government officials - both serving and retired – as well.
The court will take up the matter for hearing on 31 July.
The Aircel Maxis case pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to Global Communication Holding Services Ltd for investment in Aircel. The ED claims that an alleged payment of Rs26 lakh was made by Aircel Televentures Limited to ASCPL, a firm allegedly linked to Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance miniaster P Chidambaram, within a few days of this FIPB approval. It said it is investigating "the circumstances of said FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister (Chidambaram)", says a PTI report.
FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March 2006 when P Chidambaram was the finance minister. The finance minister was authorised to approve FDI proposal worth up to a maximum Rs600 crore, but the senior Chidambaram went beyond that to grant approval for a deal that required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the ED has said.
To do this, CBI said, the FDI was "wrongly projected as an investment of Rs180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny".
It has also claimed that a firm, CMSPL, promoted by Karti and P Chidambaram's nephew A Palaniappan received a sum of about $0.2 million from the Maxis group allegedly for procuring a legal compliance software.
The agency said probe revealed that the "software was designed only for use in India and hence, was of no use to a Malaysian company."
In September 2017, the ED had attached assets worth Rs 1.16 crore of Karti and the firm allegedly linked to him in connection with this case. The ED, in 2016, had filed charges in this case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and four others. However, the court had later discharged them in 2017 in both the ED and the CBI case pertaining to the Aircel-Maxis deal.
The two agencies subsequently had appealed against this order before the Delhi High Court.
Chidambaram denied the allegations and said he would contest the charges “vigorously”.
“CBI has been pressured to file a chargesheet to support a preposterous allegation against me and officers with a sterling reputation. The case is now before the Hon'ble Court and it will be contested vigorously. I shall make no more public comment,” he said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, the Congress—Chidambaram’s party—and the ruling BJP sparred in the Lok Sabha earlier in the day after a member of the latter hinted at a new criminal case against Chidambaram involving embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya.