Karti Chidambaram visa-fraud case after 11 years
The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money-laundering case against Congress MP Karti Chidambaram for allegedly receiving Rs 50 lakh as bribe to facilitate visas for 250 Chinese nationals for a power project in Punjab 11 years ago when his father P. Chidambaram was Union home minister.
Last week, the CBI had conducted searches on various premises linked to P. Chidambaram and Karti in Chennai and Delhi after registering a fresh graft case against the latter for the alleged irregularities in the issue of visas to Chinese nationals.
“Taking cognisance of the CBI FIR, the ED has filed a case under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Karti Chidambaram and others in the same case,” an ED official said.
The CBI has also summoned Karti to appear before it for questioning on Thursday.
P. Chidambaram had questioned the timing of the CBI raid and said the team “found nothing and seized nothing”.
The Congress has alleged political vendetta, saying the CBI raids in connection with an 11-year-old case were “wrong” and aimed at diverting attention from the key issues of inflation and unemployment.
The party also said P. Chidambaram was a nationalist and patriot whose commitment to the country was beyond question.
The CBI FIR is based on allegations that Karti accepted a bribe of Rs 50 lakh sent to an account of one of his accomplices to facilitate visas for 250 Chinese nationals working with a Chinese company.
“It was said that there was a power project in Punjab for whose implementation the work was outsourced to a Chinese firm. The company wanted to bring some Chinese professionals to the work site for which it needed project visas over and above the ceiling fixed by the Union home ministry,” a source in the CBI said.
Both P. Chidambaram and Karti are already being probed for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearances to INX Media for receiving overseas funds amounting to Rs 305 crore when the former was finance minister.
In May 2017, the CBI had registered a case against P. Chidambaram and Karti. Based on the CBI’s FIR, the ED later registered a money-laundering case.
Both were later arrested in the case and are out on bail.
The ED alleged that P. Chidambaram, during his tenure as finance minister, had facilitated a huge transfusion of foreign funds for the TV company and Karti had allegedly received kickbacks for the deal.
The central agency is also investigating the Chidambarams in the Aircel-Maxis case involving a clearance of $800 million in foreign investment in 2006 when P. Chidambaram was finance minister. The CBI and ED had alleged that the deal was done allegedly in exchange for kickbacks.
P. Chidambaram had denied the allegations and accused the Narendra Modi government of political vendetta.