Aircel-Maxis deal: Delhi court extends protection from arrest to P. Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram till Aug 23

A Delhi court on Friday extended till August 23 the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Aircel-Maxis cases filed by the CBI and the ED.

Special Judge O P Saini extended the relief, which was to end today, saying the court was not available for arguments.

During the hearing on an earlier date, the Chidambarams had told the court there was no ground to deny them anticipatory bail. Their argument was opposed by the two central probe agencies.

The cases relate to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

SC to hear I-T dept plea against quashing of black money case involving Chidambaram’s family

The Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to hear the Income Tax department’s appeal challenging the Madras High Court order which quashed criminal prosecution against senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s family members under the black money law.

The top court, however, refused to stay the order of the high court.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to Chidambaram’s wife Nalini and their son Karti, who is contesting Lok Sabha election from Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu.

The bench also sought reply from Karti’s wife Srinidhi and others in the case.

The high court had quashed criminal prosecution initiated by the I-T department under the Black Money Act against the three.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the I-T department, sought stay of the high court order of November 2, 2018 on various grounds including that it can be used by other accused to avoid criminal prosecution in cases related to black money.

To this, the bench said that granting stay at this stage without hearing the other side would amount to allowing the appeal of the I-T department.

The Solicitor general further said that if the stay is not granted then other high courts may quash the criminal prosecution against similarly placed accused under the black money law and urged that the November order of the high court should not be treated as a precedent.

The bench said that it will not be treated as a precedent as the high court would be cognizant of the fact that the apex court is seized of the matter and is scrutinizing the Madras High Court order.

The issue relates to alleged non-disclosure of overseas assets and bank accounts held by the trio.

According to the I-T Department, the three had not disclosed a property they jointly owned in Cambridge in the UK worth Rs 5.37 crore in their returns which amounted to an offence under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) Act and Imposition of Tax Act.

It also alleged that Karti did not disclose an overseas bank account he holds with Metro Bank in the UK and investments he had made in Nano Holdings LLC, USA.

He had also “failed” to disclose investments made by Chess Global Advisory, a company co-owned by him, which amounted to committing an offence under the Black Money Act, the department had said in its complaint in the special court in May last year.

On the issue, Karti’s spokesperson said the I-T department had alleged that a house property was not disclosed in the I-T returns of Karti Chidambaram and his family members.

“The I-T department’s complaint was challenged in the Madras High Court. The High Court quashed the complaint as baseless and illegal,” he said, adding that Karti and others will appear in due course and contest the case.

Aircel-Maxis case: Protection from arrest to former Union minister P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram extended till April 26

A Delhi court Monday extended till April 26 the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI and the ED.

P Chidambaram appeared before Special Judge O P Saini, who extended the interim relief granted to them.

The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

Karti Chidambaram to deposit Rs 10 crore for travelling abroad : Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Wednesday allowed former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad after depositing Rs 10 crore with its registry but asked him to cooperate with the probe in the INX Media and Aircel Maxis cases, saying “don’t play around with the law”.

The apex court asked Karti Chidambaram to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 5, 6, 7 and 12 for questioning in connection with the INX Media and Aircel Maxis cases.

“You go wherever you want to go, between February 10 and 26 but you must cooperate with the investigation,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

“Please tell your clients that he will have to cooperate. You have not cooperated. We wanted to say a lot of things. We are not saying them right now,” the bench said.

The top court had on Monday asked the ED to specify the date on which it wants to interrogate Karti.

Besides asking Karti to deposit Rs 10 crore with the secretary general of the Supreme Court, the bench also asked him to file an undertaking that he would return and cooperate with the investigation.

Karti has sought permission to travel abroad from February 10 to 26 and again from March 23 to 31.

The bench was hearing Karti’s plea seeking permission to travel to France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom for the next few months for international tennis tournaments organised by a company called ‘Totus Tennis Ltd’ having its registered office in the UK.

The plea, which also said that Karti is associated with tennis as a “former player, current administrator and entrepreneur”, is being opposed by the ED.

The court had on Monday said that it will ensure that he appears before the agency and also goes for his tennis assignment, adding that “No tennis for him if he evades”.

The apex court had earlier refused urgent hearing on the plea of Karti saying, “Who is Karti? Karti Chidambaram, you are saying? Let him stay where he is. We have more important matters to decide”.

On September 18 last year it had allowed Karti to travel to the UK from September 20-30.

Karti is facing criminal cases which are being investigated by the ED and the CBI.

One of the cases relates to the FIPB clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign funds of Rs 305 crore when his father was the finance minister.

The ED had said that Karti, who is also facing proceedings in cases like Aircel-Maxis and money laundering matters, has been “blatantly misusing” the liberty granted by court in allowing him to travel abroad and has been using the same to protract the investigation in the case.

Supreme Court asks ED to provide date on which it wants to interrogate Karti Chidambaram

The Supreme Court Monday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to specify by January 30 the date on which it wanted to interrogate Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, in the INX Media and the Aircel Maxis cases.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, to seek instructions and give the date on which the probe agency wanted to quiz Karti.

The bench was hearing Karti’s plea seeking permission to travel to France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom for the next few months for international tennis tournaments organised by a company called ‘Totus Tennis Ltd’ having its registered office in the UK.

“We will ensure both. We will ensure that he appears before you (ED) and he goes for his tennis assignment,” the bench said adding, “No tennis for him if he evades”.

The ED will have to apprise the court by January 30 about the date on which it wants Karti to appear before it for interrogation.

Karti is facing criminal cases being investigated by the ED one of which relates to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving foreign funds of Rs 305 crore when his father was the finance minister.

Aircel-Maxis case: Delhi court grants anticipatory bail to Chidambaram

New Delhi: A court here today granted protection from arrest till August 7 to former Union minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini granted the relief to the Congress leader after a plea was moved by him in the morning, seeking anticipatory bail in the case.
Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram were named in the chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case on July 19.
The agency had filed a supplementary chargesheet before the special judge, who had fixed it for consideration on July 31.
The CBI is probing as to how Chidambaram, who was the Union finance minister in 2006, granted a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to a foreign firm, when only the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was empowered to do it.

The senior Congress leader’s role has come under the scanner of investigating agencies in the Rs 3,500-crore Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case involving Rs 305 crore.
In its chargesheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the agency had alleged that Chidambaram had granted an FIPB approval in March, 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI chargesheet were discharged by the special court, which had said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also probing a separate money-laundering case in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which Chidambaram and Karti have been questioned by the agency.
Both Chidambaram and Karti have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED.

Supreme Court extends protection to Karti Chidambaram till April 2.

The Supreme Court today extended the interim protection against arrest to Karti Chidambaram, granted by the Delhi High Court in the INX Media money laundering case, till April 2.

The order came as the Enforcement Directorate sought an authoritative pronouncement from the top court in view of several conflicting orders of different high courts on the probe agency’s power of arrest under section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was told by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the ED has been armed with the power of arrest under the statute, keeping in mind the several international conventions underlining the need to curb money laundering generated from drugs smuggling, terror financing and blackmoney routing.

Mehta referred to the 1988 UN convention and said the member countries felt the need to have a law to deal with the offence money laundering.

The advent of e-commerce has made investigation into money laundering more difficult as ill-gotten wealth have been transferred to all corners of the world very conveniently after the globalisation, he said.

The bench said the interim order of March 15 granting protection of arrest to Karti, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, till today, is extended till April 2. The hearing, which remained inconclusive, would also continue on April 2.

On March 15, the apex court had given the interim relief to Karti in the INX media money laundering case and said it would clear the “confusion” which has crept in due to the divergent views of different high courts on ED’s power to arrest.

The apex court had also transferred to itself the matters pending before the Delhi High Court relating to the power of Enforcement Directorate (ED) to arrest in money laundering cases and also a plea filed by Karti seeking protection from arrest in ED’s case.

The top court had said it would answer the question about interpretation of section 19 of the PMLA relating to ED’s power to arrest and also deal with the issue whether high courts can grant protection from arrest on a plea under Article 226 of the Constitution which deals with high court’s power to issue writs and orders.

Karti was on March 23 granted bail by the Delhi High Court in connection with the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI. He was arrested by the CBI on February 28 in Chennai immediately after he returned from abroad.

In his plea before the high court, Karti has sought striking down of ED’s power of arrest under section 19 of the PMLA, besides seeking quashing of the enforcement case information report (ECIR) and the probe being carried out by the agency.

He has also sought striking down the presumption codified in section 24 of the PMLA which says that when a person is accused of having committed an offence under section 3 (money laundering), the burden of proving that proceeds of the crime are untainted property, shall be on the accused.

An FIR by CBI, filed on May 15 last year, had alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving Rs 305 crore in overseas funds in 2007 when P Chidambaram was union finance minister.

Karti Chidambaram shall not be arrested till April 16 in Aircel-Maxis cases: Delhi High Court

A day after securing bail from the Delhi High Court in INX Media case, Karti Chidambaram today got another relief from a city court which granted him protection from arrest till April 16 in Aircel-Maxis matter arising out of the 2G spectrum cases lodged by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Special Judge O P Saini granted the relief to him considering that both the investigative agencies sought three weeks to file their responses on the anticipatory bail plea moved by Karti, son of former union minister P Chidambaram.

The court, which pronounced the order in a packed courtroom, also said that Karti shall not leave the country without its permission and will appear before the investigating officer as and when directed to join the investigation.

“Since three weeks’ time is prayed for by the CBI, by submitting that during this period law shall prevail, apparently it means that as a matter of legal and judicial propriety, the applicant (Karti) shall not be arrested by the CBI during the pendency of the instant application. This is in consonance with the provisions of section 41A of the CrPC.

“Accordingly, it is directed that in case presence of the applicant is required by the IO during three weeks’ time prayed for by the senior PP for the CBI, he shall appear before the IO as and when directed and shall join the investigation,” the judge said. An identical order was passed in the ED case too.

“Put up the application for reply by the CBI/ED and disposal on April 16 as prayed. Till then, the applicant shall not be arrested in the instant case,” the judge said in the orders.

Arguing in the CBI case earlier in the day, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Karti, said that there was neither any allegation against Karti in the Aircel Maxis case nor there was anything to show that he knew the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) officials.

He argued that Karti’s name has not figured in any FIR in the case and he was only called by the CBI as a witness in 2014.

“I am entitled to protection till the time they (CBI) demonstrate anything against me in the court,” Sibal said.

Opposing his contention, CBI public prosecutor K K Goel said the application of Karti was defective and not maintainable for interim relief.

In the ED case, senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, also appearing for Karti, argued that Karti has cooperated in the other matters as well and there was no question that he would flee the county or tamper with evidence.

ED counsel Nitesh Rana too opposed the anticipatory bail plea and said Karti’s counsel have failed to demonstrate on what basis he apprehends his immediate arrest in the case.

“The application is wholly without merit,” he said while seeking three weeks time to reply to the plea.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, also a senior advocate himself, was present in the court room along with his wife Nalini Chidambaram seeking relief for his son. Both were in advocate’s attire. While senior Chidambaram wore black coat and trousers, Nalini was seen wearing an advocate’s black robe.

Besides them, a battery of senior lawyers appeared in the court for Karti, including Sibal, Subramanium, Salman Khurshid, also a Congress leader, and Mohit Mathur to secure anticipatory bail for him.

During the hearing, Sibal also referred to the February 2, 2017 verdict of the court which had discharged former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi in the Aircel Maxis case and said after this order, no FIR was lodged by the agencies.

Hours after being granted bail by the Delhi High Court in the INX media case, Karti had yesterday filed a plea seeking protection from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis matter, in which the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have lodged cases in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The matter pertains to grant of FIPB clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd for investment in Aircel.

In September 2015 the CBI had filed its status report regarding probe into FIPB approvals in Aircel Maxis case. The agency had in June 2016 also issued notice to A Palaniappan, director of Chess Management Services, a company promoted by Karti.

Delhi HC extends Karti’s protection from arrest in ED case.

The Delhi High Court today extended the protection from arrest to Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case from March 20 to 22.

A bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta changed the date of hearing from March 20 to 22 after Karti’s counsel said that senior advocate Kapil Sibal will not be available on March 20.

Sibal is representing Karti in the matter.

The Enforcement Directorate counsel Vinod Diwakar said he has instructions from Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta that the ASG has no objection if the date of hearing is changed to March 22.

To this the bench said, “Since no objection has been expressed by the ED for changing the dates, the petition is fixed for hearing on March 22.”

The high court had on March 9 directed the ED not to arrest or take any coercive action against Karti, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, till March 20 in the money laundering case.

Karti is presently lodged in Tihar jail in connection with CBI’s INX media corruption case relating to irregularities in the FIPB clearance given to the firm.

The ED has challenged in the Supreme Court the high court’s March 9 order granting interim protection to Karti and it is listed for hearing today.

Delhi court grants bail to Karti’s CA S Bhaskararaman in INX Media case

A Delhi court today granted bail to Karti Chidambaram’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman, arrested in the INX Media money laundering case.

Special judge Sunil Rana granted bail to Bhaskararaman, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on February 16 from a five-star hotel in the heart of the national capital.

The court granted the relief to the CA and asked him to furnish a bail bond of Rs two lakh and a surety of like amount. It asked Bhaskararaman to cooperate in the investigation as and when required by the ED and asked him not to leave the country without its permission.

Bhaskararaman had sought bail on the ground that he was not required for custodial interrogation and no purpose would be served by keeping him in custody. The CA was sent to jail on February 26 after his custodial interrogation by the ED.

Karti’s name had cropped up in the case relating to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) approval granted in 2007 for receipt of funds by INX Media when his father and Congress leader P Chidambaram was the finance minister during the previous UPA regime.

The ED’s special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana had earlier told the court that during the course of investigation, it was revealed that Bhaskararaman had been assisting Karti to manage his “ill-gotten wealth” in India and abroad.

He had alleged that INX Media had deliberately and in violation of the conditions of approval made a downstream investment of 26 per cent in the capital of INX News Pvt Ltd without the specific approval of FIPB, which included indirect foreign investment by some foreign investors, and generated Rs 305 crore foreign direct investment in INX Media Pvt Ltd against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crore.

To wriggle out of the situation without any punitive action, INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti, the ED had alleged.

The FIPB unit of the Finance Ministry had not only granted illegal approval but also misinformed the investigation wing of the Income Tax Department, it had alleged.