Karti Chidambaram had multiple foreign accounts, CBI tells SC

The Central Bureau of Investigation told the Supreme Court on Friday that former finance minister P Chidambaram's son Karti, contrary to his claim that he had only one foreign bank account, had several such accounts which he tried to close during his last visit to the UK. He also shifted money to another foreign account, the CBI claimed.

However, Karti's counsel Kapil Sibal sucessfully thwarted the attempts by additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta to submit documents to this effect to the court, as the bench agreed with Sibal that the matter had no relevance to the case in hand.

"The CBI had asked him (Karti Chidambaram) about his foreign bank accounts. He had replied that he had only one. But probe by the Financial Intelligence Unit revealed Karti, during his visit abroad, had closed five or six foreign bank accounts after transferring the monies," ASG Mehta told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

Waving sealed envelopes purportedly containing details of Karti's activities in the UK in June, Mehta added, "The documents we received a few days back during investigation make it clear what happened during Karti Chidambaram's last visit abroad. These documents reveal shocking facts."

However, Sibal said the CBI could not pass on evidence unrelated to the issue being heard – the validity of the lookout notice which debarred his client from going abroad.

"Are these purported evidences part of any investigation conducted pursuant to any FIR? The answer is clearly 'no'. Karti is ready to face prosecution if the CBI lodges an FIR (First Information Report) and submits the so-called evidence purportedly put inside these sealed envelopes. Otherwise, it is just vindictiveness to harass Karti aiming indirectly to trouble his father, mother and wife," Sibal said.

This drew sharp reaction from Mehta, who said, "Probably, he knows what I'm going to hand over to the court. He does not want the court to peruse these documents."

Sibal said Karti was not asked a single question about foreign bank accounts during his questioning by the CBI following the SC direction to his client to appear before the agency. "The entire argument of the CBI is that the lookout notice was issued because of irregular FIPB clearance to a downstream investment of Rs300 crore by INX Media. How does the sealed cover evidence relate to this case?" he asked.

Sibal accused the CBI of attempting to prejudice the court by handing over documents unrelated to the appeal filed by the agency challenging a Madras High Court decision to permit Karti to go abroad despite the 15 June lookout notice.

The CBI had said the FIR was registered against Karti in Delhi and the Madras HC had no territorial jurisdiction to entertain his petition challenging its validity.