INX Media Case: Charge Sheet Against Chidambaram, Karti & Others
Accused-turned-approver Indrani Mukerjea also appears in the final report.
The CBI filed a charge sheet before a Delhi court on Friday, 18 October in the INX Media corruption case accusing former finance minister P Chidambaram and 13 others including bureaucrats of causing loss to the exchequer by allegedly committing offences under Sections 9, 13(2) and 13 (1D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 120B (conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using forged document as genuine) of Indian Penal Code.
The charge sheet was filed before Special Judge Lal Singh.
The accused named in the charge sheet include Peter Mukherjea, the then director of INX media private limited; chartered accountant S Bhaskaraman; ex-NITI Ayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar; the then joint secretary, foreign trade, economic affairs Anup K Pujari and the then director of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) unit Prabodh Saxena.
The four companies that are included in the charge sheet are INX Media Private Limited, INX News Private Limited, Chess Management Services Private Limited and Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited.
Accused-turned-approver Indrani Mukerjea also appears in the final report. Indrani allegedly revealed the role played by P Chidambaram and his son Karti in approving FDI proposal in lieu of illegal gratification in India and through off-shore payments.
In her statement under Section 164 of CrPc, Indrani Mukherjea had said that she paid a bribe of around 5 million dollars to P Chidambaram, said CBI sources. Agency claims that the bribe was paid off-shore and for further investigation, Letter Rogatories (LRs) have been sent to Switzerland, Mauritius, UK, Barmuda and Singapore. Replies on LRs are still awaited.
'What the Investigation Has Revealed'
The case was registered on 15 May 2017 to investigate whether INX Media Pvt Ltd received foreign investment to the tune of Rs 403.07 crore against the approved FDI amount of Rs 4.62 crore only.
Further, the company also illegally invested Rs 40.91 crore in its sister concern company, INX News Pvt Ltd, from the received FDI amount without approval from FIPB in violation of provisions of FEMA.
During investigation it was allegedly found that Indrani Mukherjea and Peter Mukherjea, directors of INX Media Pvt Ltd, entered into a criminal conspiracy with P Chidambaram, his son Karti, the then director of Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd and the then public servants of FIPB unit, causing undue pecuniary advantage to Mukherjea’s companies in terms of possible penalty under FEMA which could have been upto three times of the total amount involved, said the CBI officials.
Charge sheet claims that Karti Chidambaram had floated a front company named Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited for receiving illegal pay offs in the guise of various consultancies, other fees and payments. The company INX Media had also allegedly made a payment of Rs 9.96 lakh in the account of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd as illegal pay off without delivering service.
The matter will be taken up for consideration by Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar on 21 October.
Both Peter and Indrani are currently in jail in a case involving the murder of Indrani's daughter Sheena Bora.
Chidambaram Under Custodial Interrogation by ED till 24 Oct
The court on Thursday had sent Chidambaram to custodial interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) till 24 October in the INX Media money laundering case “to facilitate proper investigation in the case to reach a logical end.”
Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar had allowed the ED to quiz Chidambaram for seven days.
While seeking his 14-day custody, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for ED, had told the court that from 6 September the agency examined 12 witnesses and the last one was examined on 9 October, adding that the ED also collected some more material during that period.
He said that the accused himself had moved plea seeking to surrender in the case on 5 September, which was then opposed by the probe agency on the ground that ED was investigating certain aspects of the money laundering which were first required to be probed for effective and meaningful custodial interrogation.
The court had also extended the judicial custody of Chidambaram till 24 October in the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI.
Chidambaram, who was also the Union home minister during the UPA rule, was arrested by the CBI on 21 August from his Jor Bagh residence.
The CBI had registered an FIR on 15 May 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram's tenure as the finance minister.
(With inputs from PTI)
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