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Karti’s CA held in INX Media case

| | New Delhi/Chennai
Karti’s CA held in INX Media case

In a big blow to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday morning arrested his family’s Chartered Accountant Bhaskar Raman in connection with the INX Media bribe case.  The CA is a director in most of companies linked to Chidambaram’s son Karti, who was put to a marathon interrogation by the ED on Thursday. 

The ED also conducted raids at Karti’s associates CBN Reddy, M Rajesh, Vishwanathan and Padma Vishwanathan’s homes and offices in Chennai. Bhaskar was arrested from Taj Man Singh Hotel in Delhi in the morning and sent to ED’s custody for five days.

Producing Bhaskar before the Special Judge Sunil Rana, the ED said the CA’s custody and interrogation were needed to unearth the money trail in INX Media bribe case. The ED counsels argued that INX Media’s “deceitful and fallacious” FIPB proposal was approved by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram for gratification paid to Karti. It is expected that in the coming days, the ED and CBI might arrest more persons in this case.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court has allowed Karti to go abroad and cancelled the six-month long Look Out Circular (LOC) issued by the CBI. Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose allowed the petition moved by Karti seeking permission to go abroad though the CBI vehemently opposed it. The court directed Karti return back to India by February 28.

The court also directed Karti to keep the CBI informed about his travel plans and provide the details of the places he is visiting. The High Court saw no merit in the CBI arguments to prevent Karti from going abroad and observed that without chargesheet or any other action, the LoC cannot hold indefinitely.

“Karti had made plans for two trips abroad. The court by its order on Friday has cleared the first trip he is undertaking in the month of February. His second trip scheduled for the month of March would be decided later by the court,” said G Rajagopal, Additional Solicitor General.

Karti is expected to leave for  France  to attend a business meeting of his company, Totus Tennis, for managing the European tennis season related commitments, said his staffers. This firm is floated in London by Karti along with a former British diplomat worked in India.

Karti who was interrogated for more than 10 hours on Thursday was let off by ED around 12 midnight and was asked to come back with more documents of his companies engaged in the INX Media bribe case. The CBI and ED had registered FIR in the case in May 2017 and also conducted raids on Karti and companies linked to him.

The co-accused Indrani Mukerjea, the promoter of INX Media, has already admitted to the CBI and ED that she had paid around Rs five crore to Karti for the getting FIPB clearances. The payments were made to Karti’s firms, Chess Management Services and Advantage Strategic Consulting, through Indrani’s firms in London. 

As per the CBI and ED FIRs, in 2007, INX Media got FIPB clearance for only Rs five crore of  foreign investments.

But the TV channel illegally brought more than Rs 305 crore from Mauritius registered companies in a dubious way. Income Tax authorities found the irregularity and issued notice to Indrani and husband Peter Mukherjea.  Thereafter, the duo approached Karti for getting post factor FIPB clearance through Chidambaram, who allegedly obliged the INX Media. 

The INX media scam was unearthed during the joint raid of ED and Income Tax in December 2015 at Karti’s companies in connection with Aircel-Maxis scam. The investigators seized hard disks from the Karti’s firms, unearthing details of the family’s properties and hotels and farm houses in 14 countries and 21 undeclared foreign bank accounts.



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