Aircel-Maxis Case: Chidambaram Appears Before ED, Says No FIR Yet
Most of the six hours was spent “typing answers without errors,” Chidambaram said about the ED’s questioning
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram spent more than six hours before the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday, 5 June, as part of the agency’s probe into his alleged connection with the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.
However, Chidambaram raised questions of his own, over the ED’s investigation into the Aircel-Maxis case that alleged his involvement in the absence of an FIR, and without him being informed of the offences he was being charged with.
The questions were about what is already recorded in the file. Hence, answers too were what is recorded in the file. More than half the time was spent typing the answers without errors, reading the statement and signing it!P Chidambaram, Former Finance Minister
Chidambaram went on to slam the Enforcement Directorate, taking digs at how they spent the majority of the time allotted for his questioning, on signing statements and “typing answers without errors.”
Interim Protection Extended Till 10 July
Meanwhile, a special Central Bureau of Investigation court extended Chidambaram’s interim protection from arrest in case till 10 July. Chidambaram’s questioning will resume again at 3 pm as he has reportedly been allowed to take a lunch break.
The senior Congress leader arrived at the agency's headquarter annexe office in Delhi at about 10:58 am and was accompanied by a lawyer. The agency had issued a fresh summon to him on Monday to appear before the investigating officer of the case.
The agency is expected to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Chidambaram’s role has come under the scanner in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal in which the ED has already questioned his son, Karti.
Chidambaram had earlier in the week approached the court of Special Judge OP Saini seeking relief from arrest by the ED in this case. The same court on Tuesday directed ED not to take any coercive action or arrest him till 10 July in connection with this case. The ED had first asked him to appear before it on 30 May, and Chidambaram knocked on the court's door.
The court, in its order on 30 May, had noted that Chidambaram has undertaken to comply with the summons issued by the ED while saying he apprehended his arrest by the agency.
The Aircel-Maxis cases pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to firm MS Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel.
What is the Aircel Maxis Case?
The Supreme Court had on 12 March directed investigating agencies, the CBI and the ED, to complete their probe into the 2G spectrum allocation cases, including the Aircel Maxis alleged money laundering case, in six months.
The agency had said FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March 2006 by Chidambaram even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore and beyond that it required the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
The ED is investigating "the circumstances of the FIPB approval granted (in 2006) by the then finance minister." "In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, the CCEA was competent to grant the approval."
The agency said its probe revealed that the case of the said FDI was “wrongly projected as an investment of Rs 180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny.” The ED is probing the Aircel-Maxis deal under the PMLA after taking cognisance of a 2011 CBI FIR in the case.
The senior Chidambaram had earlier described the ED action in this case as a "crazy mixture of falsehoods and conjectures" and said that the charge sheet filed by probe agencies had been rejected by the court.
However, the agencies have maintained that the FIR in the case has not been quashed.
In September last year, the ED had attached assets worth Rs 1.16 crore of Karti and a firm allegedly linked to him in connection with this case.
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