Chidambaram appears before ED in Aircel-Maxis case

RSTV Bureau
File photo of former Union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in New Delhi.  PTI

File photo of former Union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in New Delhi.
PTI

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case. The agency had issued a fresh summon to the senior Congress leader on Monday to appear before the investigating officer.

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.

The former finance minister, also the ex-home minister, had last week approached the court of Special Judge OP Saini seeking relief from arrest by the ED in this case.

In a related development, the same court had on Tuesday morning directed ED not to take any coercive action or arrest him till July 10 in connection with this case.

The Aircel-Maxis case pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel.

The Supreme Court had on March 12 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 alleged that FIPB approval of Rs 3500 Crore 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,” it said.

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 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.

(With inputs from PTI)