CBI raids on Karti Chidambaram: Plot decoded and some unanswered questions

FIR only focusses on unnamed officials of finance ministry and doesn’t name former FM as an accused

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The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday raided 16 properties linked to Karti P Chidambaram, son of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram. The raids are related to foreign investment clearances approved by the Centre’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board to media firms in 2007 during the United Progressive Alliance rule.

The First Information Report, which facilitated the raids, was filed in Delhi on Monday. The firms under scanner, INX Media Private Limited and INX News Private Limited, had Indrani Mukherjea and Peter Mukherjea as former directors. The two are currently in prison on charges of killing their daughter Sheena Bora in April 2012. Their bunglow in Mumbai was also raided.

Apart from the three, the FIR names Padma Vishwanathan as director of Advantage Strategic Consulting, “unknown officials” of the Ministry of Finance and “other unknown persons”. Chess Management Services, a firm in which Karti Chidambaram was a director during the alleged transactions, also finds a mention.

The plot

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board is an “inter-ministerial body, responsible for processing Foreign Direct Investment proposals and making recommendations for government approval”.

According to the FIR, INX Media approached the Board for foreign investment clearances on March 13, 2007. The investment was to be raised through allotment of shares to three companies – Dunearn Investments (Mauritius) Private Limited, NSR-PE Mauritius Private Limited and New Vernon Private Equity Limited. The shares were to be issued at a face value of Rs 10 each.

The foreign funding was sought to promote and run television channels in both English and regional languages.

In the application, INX Media also expressed its intention to allot 26% of the investment raised to INX News Private Limited and sought permission for the same.

Unanswered questions

While the CBI has named Karti Chidambaram and has gone after him with the raids, the investigating agency chose to remain mysteriously silent on the identity of officials, which it chose to mention as “unknown”.

According to the FIPB’s website, the board consists of the following officials:

  • Secretary to Government, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance – Chairperson.
  • Secretary to Government, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • Secretary to Government, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • Secretary to Government, Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs.
  • Secretary to Government, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

Apart from the above mentioned, the FIPB can co-opt any secretary in the government to process an application. (READMORE…)

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