Rs 3,560 cr Aircel-Maxis case: ED files charge-sheet against Chidambaram

PTI New Delhi. Oct 25 | Updated on October 26, 2018

Former Union minister P Chidambaram. FILE PHOTO   -  The Hindu

If found guilty former Minister faces 7-year jail term, fine

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

It has also named S Bhaskaraman, chartered accountant of Chidambaram’s son Karti. Both Chidambaram and Karti have 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 and Bumi Armada Navigation Sdn Bhd.

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

Money laundering charges

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

The nine persons named in the chargesheet are accused of money laundering of ₹1.16 crore in lieu of illegal approval by the erstwhile Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) accorded by Chidambaram in March 2006. The approval was given to foreign firm Global Communication and Services Holdings Ltd, Mauritius, (a subsidiary of Maxis) in violation of the various rules and regulations governing the FDI policy in India.

Chidambaram was empowered to give approval to proposals involving foreign investment up to ₹600 crore only, said the ED. Global Communication’s investment was to the tune of $800 million, which amounted to about ₹3,560 crore (when $1 was ₹44.5), it added.

“The foreign investment proposal of Global Communication should have been referred to the 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 chargesheet.

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

Charge-sheet against Karti

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 e-mail 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.

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.

Published on October 25, 2018

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