New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday said it has attached properties worth Rs 54 crore belonging to former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram and a firm in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.
Karti Chidambram described the agency’s move as “bizarre and outlandish” and said he would take legal action against it. A senior ED official told IANS: “We have attached six properties of Karti worth Rs 54 crore.” The properties include a cottage worth Rs 8.67 crore in the UK’s Somerset, a tennis club and land located in Spain’s Gava worth Rs 14 crore.
Explaining the procedure to attach the foreign asstes, the official said: “We would get the Letter Rogatories (a judicial request) from competent authorities for legal formalisation of foreign assets under Section 5 of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002).”
Besides the foreign properties, the ED also attached land and properties worth Rs 16 crore in New Delhi’s Jor Bagh, in which Karti’s mother Nalini Chidambaram is a 50 per cent stakeholder, and two bungalows in Tamil Nadu’s Ooty — one worth Rs 50 lakh and another Rs 3.75 crore, besides an agricultural land worth Rs 25 lakh in Kodaikanal in the same state.
Fixed deposits belonging to the firm Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL) worth Rs 90 lakh, kept in a Chennai bank, were also attached. The assets are in the name of Karti Chidambaram and ASCPL — the firm allegedly linked to him.
The ED has also attached properties belonging to Peter and Indrani Mukerjea in connection with the same case. Karti tweeted: “A bizarre and outlandish provisional attachment order which is not based on law or facts but on crazy conjectures.
“This is meant only to grab headlines. The order will not withstand judicial scrutiny, review or appeal. Will approach the appropriate legal forum,” he said.
The ED said the investigation conducted so far shows that for the approval of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), Peter and Indrani Mukerjea met then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, so that there was no hold-up or delay in their application.
“P. Chidambaram asked for his son’s business interests to be kept in mind. The ED identified payments of Rs 3.09 crore by Peter Mukerjea to ASCPL and associated entities controlled by Karti P. Chidambaram through manipulated debit notes.
“During the investigation, it was admitted that debit notes were raised on the directions of Karti Chidambaram to show some transactions which in fact did not occur,” the agency alleged.
It said the money so received by associated entities was channeled back into the ASCPL. “The funds received by ASCPL were invested and ASCPL also purchased shares of Vasan Health Care. A part of these shares were sold at a profit of nearly Rs 41 crore. ASCPL also earned Rs 18.49 crore from sale of shares in another company for Rs 29.49 crore. These funds arising from the sale of laundered property were also used in money laundering,” it said.
Karti is facing probes by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in several cases, including alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to then INX Media for FDI in 2007 and the Aircel-Maxis case in 2006 and a money laundering case.
The ED and the CBI are probing how Karti Chidambaram managed to get clearance from the FIPB when his father was in office. Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28 by the CBI for allegedly taking money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media in 2007. He was later granted bail.