ED files charge sheet against P Chidambaram in Aircel Maxis case


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

The Enforcement Directorate Thursday tightened its noose around former Union minister P Chidambaram by filing charge sheet against him in a Delhi court in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case, accusing him of conspiring with foreign investors to clear their venture.

The agency also named S Bhaskaraman (chartered accountant of Chidambaram’s son Karti).

Chidambaram and his son have both denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED.

The others named in the charge sheet filed before Special Judge OP Saini are: V Srinivasan (former CEO of Aircel), Augustus Ralph Marshall (associated with Maxis), Astro All Asia Networks Plc Malaysia, Aircel Televentures Ltd, Maxis Mobile Services Sdn Bhd, Bumi Armada Berhad, Bumi Armada Navigation Sdn Bhd in the charge sheet filed before Special Judge OP Saini.

The court has fixed November 26 for consideration of the charge sheet.

It has charged the accused under sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. If found guilty, they would be liable to a jail term of up to seven years along with fine.

The nine are accused of money laundering of Rs 1.16 crore in lieu of illegal approval by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) accorded by the former minister in March 2006. The approval was given to the foreign investor Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited, Mauritius in violation of the various rules and regulations governing the FDI policy in India.

“As per rules and FDI policy of Government of India in 2006, Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister was empowered to give approval of the foreign investment to the proposals involving foreign investment up to Rs 600 crore only. The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited was of USD 800 million which amounts to Rs 3,560 crore approximately (when 1 USD was Rs 44.5),.

“The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication and Services Holdings Limited should have been referred to Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) but it was not done and approved by Chidambaram under a conspiracy,” said the ED, filing the second supplementary charge sheet.

ED had filed the first charge sheet in the case against Karti; later, a supplementary charge sheet was also filed against him.

It said the charge sheet is based on adequate material evidences which are in the form of email communications retrieved from the seized digital devices from Karti and his associates.

The material evidences reveal routing of proceeds of crime in the guise of bonafide business deals by the beneficiaries of illegal FIPB approval in the companies of Karti. The investigation has revealed the financial linkage of Karti Chidambaram and P Chidambaram with these companies, it said.

“Their are contradictory and evasive responses, in spite of that ED has collected materials that is corroboratory statements recorded under Section 50 of the PMLA from various persons during the investigation to substantiate the offence of money laundering,” ED said.

The first charge sheet in the case was filed against Karti on June 13 which claimed that he controlled two firms which allegedly received Rs 1.16 crore as bribe money in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

Advocates N K Matta and Nitesh Rana appeared for the ED in the court.

The ED had registered the case under the sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act on February 7, 2012 on basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.

The agency had mentioned that the former Union minister’s son has been linked with various individuals and companies involved in the FIPB approval given to the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The senior Congress leader’s role has come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.

In its charge sheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the agency had alleged that Chidambaram had granted an FIPB approval in March, 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI charge sheet were discharged by the special court, which had said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.

The ED is also probing a separate money-laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which Chidambaram and Karti have been questioned by the agency.