CBI questions Karti Chidambaram in visa case

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram gestures as he leaves the CBI headquarters in New Delhi on May 26, 2022.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram gestures as he leaves the CBI headquarters in New Delhi on May 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday questioned Congress MP Karti Chidambaram for nine hours in connection with an alleged scam pertaining to the issuance of visas to 263 Chinese nationals in 2011 when his father P. Chidambaram was home minister, officials said.

A special court had ordered Karti to join the CBI investigation within 16 hours of his arrival from the United Kingdom and Europe, where he had gone with the permission of the Supreme Court and the special court.

The MP returned from his trip on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, and arrived at the CBI office around 8.00 on Thursday morning to answer questions related to the case.

Earlier in the day, a Delhi court granted him interim protection from arrest till May 30 in a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Chinese Visa case.

Special Judge M.K. Nagpal also issued notice to the ED on the anticipatory bail application moved by Karti Chidambaram.

Mr. Chidambaram has denied having facilitated visa for any Chinese national.

Speaking to reporters outside the CBI headquarters, Mr. Chidambaram said the case against him was “bogus”, and claimed that he had not facilitated the issuance of visa to any Chinese national.

He was allowed to go for a recess for about an hour in afternoon after which the questioning resumed. The MP was quizzed till about 6 pm.

Coming out of the intense questioning, Karti Chidambaram said it all was a political vendetta, and that he would depose again if the agencies call him.

Following searches at multiple locations, the CBI had earlier arrested Mr. Chidambaram’s close associate S. Bhaskar Raman and got his custody from a special court. The two may be confronted with each other during questioning. 

The CBI case mentions that in 2011, Talwandi Sabo Power Limited was in the process of setting up a 1980 MW thermal power plant at Mansa in Punjab. The work was outsourced to a Chinese firm named Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation.

As the project was running behind schedule leading to financial repercussions in terms of penalty and interest on bank loans, it attempted to bring in more Chinese persons or professionals to the work site, for which the firm needed project visas over and above the ceiling imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

It is alleged that the company’s representative Vikas Makharia approached Mr. Raman and then submitted a request letter dated July 30, 2011, to the MHA (Foreigners Division) for permission to re-use the project visas earlier issued to the company. The agency alleges that Mr. Raman demanded ₹50 lakh for the job.

On August 30, 2011, the company was granted an approval for the re-use of 263 project visas and the bribe allegedly paid in cash to Mr. Raman.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 1:53:14 am |