CBI calls Karti Chidambaram for grilling in Aircel-Maxis case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has asked Karti Chidambaram, son of Congress party leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram, to appear before it today in connection with its probe into the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.

Karti was asked to appear before the investigators at the CBI headquarters in CGO complex in south Delhi's Lodi Road.

The CBI's move comes in the wake of Supreme Court's order in April directing the agency to come with a detailed investigation report by the next hearing. Karti would be questioned by the agency over the alleged money laundering through his firms in the Aircel-Maxis tie-up in 2008, reports citing CBI sources said.

According to the CBI charge-sheet submitted in a special court, Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought and been granted approval for an investment of $800 million in Aircel.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was the competent authority to grant the approval. "However, the approval was granted by the then finance minister. Further investigation is being carried out into the circumstances of the FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister. The related issues are also being investigated," the CBI had said in 2014 when it launched the probe.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has claimed that the former finance minister had given FIPB clearance to a deal that should have been referred to the CCEA headed by the prime minister, as it alone was empowered to clear foreign investments of over Rs600 crore.

P Chidambaram, who was examined by the agency in connection with the case in 2014, had issued a statement this year saying the FIPB approval was granted in the "normal course of business".

He had said the FIPB consists of five secretaries and that they examine the cases and recommend approval.

They "apply the rules/guidelines" and submit each case to the CCEA or the finance minister depending upon the value of the investment, he had said.

"However, the approval was granted by the then finance minister. Further investigation is being carried out into the circumstances of the FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister. The related issues are also being investigated," the CBI had said in 2014.

The summons comes days after Karti Chidambaram was instructed by the Supreme Court to appear before the CBI in relation to the INX Media Case, where he is accused of receiving irregular FIPB clearance for investment up to Rs305 crore. In the course of hearing against him, the CBI on Tuesday claimed they have traced 25 companies linked to him abroad.