It was building up for last few years. Working through the trail of murky financial transactions and shady deals allegedly carried out by Congress leader Karti Chidambaram, who also happens to be the son of former Union Finance Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram, investigative agencies like CBI and ED have finally managed to gather strong-enough evidence to arrest Karti Chidambaram from Chennai airport today morning.
Media reports are saying that Karti was arrested in connection with the INX money-laundering case, but CBI has been tightlipped thus far only stating that the arrest was made in a ‘cheating case’.
Karti’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman was recently arrested from a five-star hotel in Delhi on February 16.
While the Chidambaram’s are facing 10 probes by various agencies – the family is reported to have businesses and properties in 14 countries, and 21 undeclared foreign bank accounts– the most well-known cases of financial fraud are the Aircel-Maxis and INX-Media scams wherein FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) norms were allegedly violated along with other malfeasance.
CBI has alleged that Karti, who is an All India Congress Committee member and fought the 2014 LS election on a Congress ticket, received money from INX Media for using his influence to manipulate a tax probe against it in a case of violation of FIPB conditions to receive investment from Mauritius. The CBI has said that it also seized vouchers of Rs 10 lakh which were allegedly paid for the services.
The CBI FIR against Karti and others was filed based off an ED (Enforcement Directorate) investigation which had revealed illegal payments made by INX Media.
The most detailed coverage of the various scams involving the Chidambarams can be found on the PGurus site – https://www.pgurus.com/?s=Chidambaram
However, doubts still linger whether justice will be done in these various cases involving the Chidambarams. In Jan, during a raid on P Chidambaram’s residence, ED stumbled upon a CBI draft report on the Aircel-Maxis scam that was submitted in 2013 to SC in a sealed cover – this leak demonstrates the deep links that P Chidambaram enjoys in the nation’s bureaucracy and the influence he still wields in Delhi, especially in the Finance Ministry (P Chidambaram has been Finance Minister for 8+ years in the last 2 decades) which is currently led by Arun Jaitley.
Few days back, Chidambaram had approached the Supreme Court seeking “protection of his fundamental rights, including the right to privacy,” and asking court to prohibit ED and CBI from continuing with “illegal” probe as part of a “political vendetta”.
The 2G corruption case in which a CBI court acquitted all accused in Dec last year, stands as a grim reminder to how tough it is to bring high-flying politicians to book in corruption cases. Although that judgement by Judge OP Saini, which controversially goes against the SC findings in its verdict of 2012 cancelling 2G licenses, was based on a chargesheet filed before May 2014 by CBI / ED & is likely to be challenged in a higher court, it still demonstrated how the Congress establishment built over 60+ years still wields considerable influence despite being voted out of power.
But the good thing is that at least now the corrupt have started to feel the heat, unlike a few years back when they were arrogance personified. This tweet put out by the BJP Mumbai spokesperson purports to a private conversation he had with Karti Chidambaram, wherein Karti was contemptuously willing to bet that he wouldn’t be arrested.
Hope @KartiPC remembers the bet. pic.twitter.com/o6M6kkjUZJ
— Jiten Gajaria (@jitengajaria) February 28, 2018
In Oct last year, when questioned on CBI summons over the Aircel Maxis issue, Karti Chidambaram had even mocked media –
Incidentally, in 2012, Karti Chidambaram had got a small scale industrialist from Puducherry arrested for posting “offensive” messages regarding Karti’s finances on twitter.
Let’s hope the right lessons have been learnt from the 2G episode, and CBI/ED are allowed to proceed with their investigations in this case without fear of internal sabotage, and supported by a crack legal team of Government prosecutors, to ensure the corrupt are punished.
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