On December 19, 2018, senior Congress Leader P. Chidambaram was reportedly questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in INX Media case. In this case, P. Chidambaram, the then finance minister in UPA I, through his businessman son Karti Chidambaram allegedly extended undue favours to the INX Media Group.
What is the INX Media Case
- INX Media was founded by Indrani Mukerjea in 2006.
- In the year 2007, INX Media applied for clearance with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), a unit under the Ministry of Finance which was headed by P Chidambaram during UPA I Government.
- According to the CBI (as reported here), the Board in its meeting on March 18, 2007, approved an FDI inflow of Rs 4.62 crore against INX Media. It did not, however, approve the downstream investment by INX Media in INX News.
- As per the FIR filed in the case, “contrary to the approval of FIPB conveyed…, M/s. INX Media (P) Limited deliberately and in violation of the conditions of the approval
- (i). made a downstream investment to the extent of 26% in the capital of INX News (P) Limited without the specific approval of FIPB which included indirect foreign investment by the same foreign investors …
- (ii). generated more than Rs. 305 crores Foreign Direct Investment in INX Media (P) Limited against the approved foreign inflow of Rs. 4.62 crores by issuing the shares to the foreign investors at a premium of more than Rs. 800/- per share”.
- For above irregularities, in 2008, FIPB issued a letter to INX Media seeking clarification on both the issues.
- According to the FIR, “upon receipt of this letter from the FIPB Unit, M/s. INX Media (P) Limited in order to wriggle out of the situation without any punitive action, entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti P. Chidambaram, son of Shri P. Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister of India, and Promoter Director of M/s. Chess Management Services (P) Limited, Chennai, so as to get the issues resolved/addressed amicably by influencing the public servants of the FIPB Unit of Ministry of Finance by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister”.
- On the basis of clarifications suggested by the Chess Management Services (P) Limited, INX Media (P) Limited through their letter reportedly tried to justify their action to FIPB on both the counts.
- CBI alleged that Karti Chidambaram, Congress Leader, used his influence on concerned officials of the board to not only ignore the violations and serious illegality on the part of INX Media, but it also deliberately asked INX Media to apply afresh for the FIPB approval with respect the downstream investment which had already been made by INX Media.
- INX Media, according to the CBI, allegedly made the payments to M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Limited (ASCPL), indirectly controlled by Karti Chidambaram.
- CBI also alleged that INX group in its record has clearly mentioned the purpose of payment of Rs. 10 lacs to M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Ltd as towards “Management consultancy charges towards FIPB notification and clarification”. According to the CBI, “payment was deliberately made to M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) Ltd, indirectly controlled by Karti Chidambaram for the services rendered by M/s Chess Management Services (P) Ltd where Karti Chidambaram was the promoter director”, to conceal his identity in the alleged kickbacks.
- Further, according to the CBI, “information also disclosed that the invoices for approximately an amount of Rs. 3.5 crores were also got raised in favour of M/s. INX group in the name of other companies in which Shri Karti P. Chidambaram was having sustainable interests either directly or indirectly”. CBI alleged that they were falsely raised.
Brief Timeline of Investigation in the Case Post-2014
- CBI registered an FIR against Karti on the charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, accepting gratification by corrupt or illegal means, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.
- CBI questioned Karti Chidambaram on FIPB clearance to INX media when his father P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.
- ED issued fresh summons against Karti Chidambaram in the INX media case.
- Delhi Court sent Indrani Mukejea to CBI custody for 2 days for questioning in relation to the INX Media case.
- CBI arrested Karti Chidambaram at Chennai airport.
- Peter Mukerjea was sent to judicial custody by a Delhi court in connection with the INX Media case.
- P. Chidambaram was reportedly questioned by the CBI for 4 hours as “a suspect” in the INX Media case
- ED reportedly attached the assets of Karti Chidambaram worth Rs 54 crore in India and abroad.
- Delhi High Court extended the interim protection to Chidambaram from arrest in the case till January 15, 2019.
- On December 19, 2018, P Chidambaram was questioned by ED for 7 hours in the case.