#NewsBytesExplainer: What is INX Media case against P Chidambaram?
Former Union Finance Minister and Congress stalwart, P Chidambaram faces arrest for his alleged involvement in the INX Media case. This gigantic development has led Congress to target BJP, the party in power, accusing it of political vendetta. In a dramatic turn of events, CBI has visited Chidambaram's house twice in the last 24 hours. Here's all about the case against Chidambaram.
The case pertains to alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media Pvt. Ltd., run by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. The media group allegedly received overseas funds to the tune of Rs. 305 crore when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. His son Karti, who is Congress' MP from Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga, is accused of receiving kickbacks.
The media company was founded by the Mukerjeas in 2007, and Karti allegedly joined hands with them to secure foreign investments for the company. Karti's involvement came to light several years after the deal was actually struck when Enforcement Directorate (ED) was investigating a company linked to him. Reportedly, the agency found documents related to INX Media in the computer of Karti's CA Bhaskarraman.
On ED's reference, CBI registered a corruption case in May 2017 and searched premises of both Karti and Chidambaram. ED, separately, registered a money laundering case. According to CBI, INX Media approached FIPB on March 13, 2007, seeking permission to issue 14.98 lakh equity shares and 31.22 lakh convertible non-cumulative redeemable preference shares costing Rs. 10 each to three non-resident investors following FDI route.
Reportedly, these shares made up for 46.21% of INX Media's issued equity capital. In its application, the media company also said it would "make a downstream financial investment to the extent of 26% of the issued and outstanding equity share capital of INX News Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of INX Media". While FIPB cleared FDI of Rs. 4.62 crore, it rejected the proposal of downstream investment.
Despite FIPB's conditional approval, INX Media managed to get FDI worth over Rs. 300 crore. In May 2008, when FIPB sought an explanation from INX Media, they allegedly approached Karti. Karti was requested to influence public servants at FIPB "by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram." CBI alleged rather than investigating the irregularities, FIPB extended favors to INX Media.
Thereafter, in May 2017, CBI filed an FIR and a month later Foreigner Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) and Bureau of Immigration, both of which fall under Union Home Ministry, issued look-out circular (LOC) against Karti. To his relief, the Madras High Court stayed LOC against Karti and four others on August 10, 2017. On August 14, 2017, the Supreme Court stayed Madras HC's order.
SC had directed Karti to appear before CBI on August 23, 2017. In September 2017, the CBI told SC that Karti should be stopped from traveling abroad as he allegedly wants to close his foreign bank accounts. A month later, Karti sought SC's permission to travel to the UK for his daughter's admission at Cambridge University. In November 2017, he was allowed to travel.
Then, in December 2017, Karti approached SC challenging CBI's summons issued against him in Aircel-Maxis case. In February 2018, he was arrested by CBI at Chennai airport and brought to Delhi. In March, he again moved SC challenging ED summons issued against him in money laundering case. On March 6, 2018, he was sent to 3-days CBI custody, and on March 12 to 12-days of judicial custody.
On March 23, 2018, Delhi High Court gave bail to Karti in INX Media case. On May 30, 2018, his father Chidambaram moved Delhi HC seeking anticipatory bail in CBI corruption case. In July, he sought protection from arrest in money laundering case being probed by ED. To his fortune, he was granted interim protection from arrest in both the cases.
Notably, on July 11, 2019, Indrani turned approver in INX Media case. Reportedly, in her statement, recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC, Indrani accepted that a deal of $1 million was struck between Karti and the Mukerjeas. On August 1, ED asked Karti to vacate his Jor Bagh house. And, on August 20, Chidambaram's anticipatory bail plea was rejected by Delhi HC.