The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday, 58 days after arresting former finance minister P Chidambaram, filed its chargesheet naming him as accused in the INX Media case.
The CBI has also charged his son Karti Chidambaram, former officials of finance minister and Peter Mukerjea in the case.
According to sources, Indrani Mukerjea in her statement had told the CBI that a bribe of $5 million was paid through offshore payments. The CBI has sent Letter Rogatory (LR) to five countries to further probe this claim. Indrani Mukerjea allegedly also told the investigators that a meeting between her and P Chidambaram took place to discuss INX Media deal in March/April 2007.
Investigation by the CBI, according to sources, further revealed that Karti Chidambaram had floated a front company, dvantage Strategic Consultancy Private Ltd (ASCPL), for receiving illegal payoffs in the guise of various consultancies, other fees and payments. INX Media had also made a payment of Rs 9.96 lakh into the account of ASCPL. The CBI is treating this payment as illegal payoff without delivering any service.
During investigation, one of the directors of INX Media, Indrani Mukerjea, turned approver. Sources say that in the chargesheet, the CBI has also maintained that Indrani Mukerjea also revealed role played by the finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram in according approval to foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal in INX Media and INX News Pvt Ltd in lieu of illegal gratification in India and through offshore payments. LRs have been sent to Singapore, Mauritius, Bermuda, UK and Switzerland.
Apart from Indrani Mukerjea, one more witness has given statement against P Chidambaram claiming that the then finance minister misused his official position and influenced the deal.
The CBI had registered case in May, 2017 to investigate the issue that INX Media Private Limited had received foreign investment of Rs 403.07 crore against approved FDI amount Rs 4.62 crore only.
India Today has learnt that the chargesheet also claims that further this company illegally invested Rs 40.91 crore rupees in it’s sister concern INX News Pvt Limited from the received FDI amount without approval from FIPB in violation of provisions of Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act.
Sources say, during investigation it was found that Indrani Mukherjea and Peter Mukherjea, directors of INX Media Private Limited entered into a criminal conspiracy with the then finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram (the then director Chess Management Services Pvt Limited) and the then public servants of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) unit, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) for getting the issue settled without any penal action against them.
Chargesheet, according to sources, claims that this caused undue pecuniary advantage to the companies concerned in terms of possible penalty under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) which could have been upto three times the total amount involved.
Apart from P Chidambaram, the CBI has named – INX Media Pvt Ltd (presently 9X Media Private Limited), INX News Pvt Limited, (presently Direct News), Karti P Chidambaram, Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd, Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd, Ajeet Kumar Dungdung (the then section officer of FIPB unit, Ministry of Finance), Rabindra Prasad (the then under secretary FIPB unit, Ministry of Finance), Pradeep Kumar Bagga (the then OSD, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance), Prabodh Saxena (then Director, FIPB Unit, Finance Ministry), Anup K Pujari (the then Joint Secretary, Foreign Trade, DEA), Sindhushree Khullar (the then additional secretary,DEA, FM), S Bhaskararaman (Chartered Accountant) and Peter (Pratim) Mukherjea (the then director INX Media Limited).
P Chidambaram and others have been charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, intentional cheating, using fraud documents and misusing of his official position.