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Karti Chidambaram held in INX Media bribery case

Karti Chidambaram being brought to the Patiala Court complex in New Delhi on February 28, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

In a dramatic move, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested Karti Chidambaram at Chennai airport on allegations that he had demanded and accepted $1 million for scuttling a possible probe against INX Media for violation of FIPB conditions in 2007. He was later remanded in one-day police custody.

Mr. Karti, who was returning to Chennai on a flight from London, was brought to Delhi on a transit remand and produced before a metropolitan magistrate. The magistrate directed the agency to produce him before a regular court at 2.30 p.m. on Thursday, when the agency is likely to seek his further custody. Outside the court premises, Mr. Karti told the media that all the allegations against him were politically motivated and that this would be validated by the court.

Indrani’s statement

In a recent statement to the CBI, agency sources said, INX Media former director Indrani Mukerjea — who is facing prosecution along with husband Peter Mukerjea for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora — claimed that Mr. Karti demanded and accepted the amount. The deal was struck at Delhi’s Hyatt, the agency said.

 

On February 17, the CBI also got Ms. Indrani’s statement recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is admissible as evidence.

The arrest has been made on an FIR registered on May 15, 2017, against Mr. Karti, his previous company Chess Management Services and another firm Advantage Strategic Consulting that he allegedly controlled; and INX Media and its arm INX News, earlier represented by Ms. Indrani and her husband as directors. Based on initial information, the FIR had mentioned only ₹10 lakh as alleged quid pro quo.

It is alleged that Karti exercised his influence over the FIPB unit officials to help INX Media wriggle out of a probe proposed by the Department of Revenue into an alleged unapproved 26% down-streaming of foreign investments in INX News, received from three Mauritius-based companies in 2007.

INX Media had got FIPB approval for Rs.4.62-crore influx, but received Rs.305 crore by selling its shares at a premium of Rs.800 per unit. For down-streaming of funds, the company re-applied as advised by the FIPB and got a separate approval later, allegedly by concealing that it had already been made.

The agency alleges that in lieu of the “services” rendered to INX Media by Chess Management Services, payments were received through Advantage Strategic Consulting and other entities located abroad.

During the hearing before Metropolitan Magistrate Sumeet Anand on Wednesday, the CBI also alleged that Karti had not been cooperating and that there were apprehensions of him tampering with the evidence during his foreign visits.

The agency alleged that he appeared before the agency twice, only following court directions and that he had violated the conditions set by the Madras High Court, which allowed him to visit London. Karti was required to submit the itinerary to the CBI.

However, Karti’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the conditions were complied with in letters, notices and affidavit. Questioning the grounds for arrest, Mr. Singhvi said Karti had appeared before the CBI on August 22 and 28 last year, after which no summonses were issued. When he said the CBI arrested him without summoning, the CBI counsel flagged Indrani’s 164-Cr.PC statement to state that $1 million were allegedly demanded and accepted by Karti.

This article has been corrected for an editing error.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 11:49:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/inx-media-case-karti-chidambaram-arrested-in-chennai/article22875605.ece

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