In a major development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has named Congress leader P Chidambaram in its FIR, hours after it raided residences in Chennai and Delhi. This comes as the central agency has registered a fresh case against son Karti for allegedly facilitating visas of 263 Chinese nationals for a power company over 11 years ago when his father - P Chidambaram was the Union Home Minister.
The FIR has named Karti Chidambaram under Sections 120-B IPC (criminal conspiracy), Section 477-A IPC (Falsification of accounts), and Sections 8,9 of the PC Act, 1988 for facilitating the issuance of visas in violation of the norms of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The FIR accessed by Republic Media Network states that there is 'reason to believe that former Home Minister P Chidambaram and the then Home Secretary were aware of the matter'. Even so, the FIR also mentions that it is not ascertained at this stage whether, Chidambaram and the former Home Secretary were aware of the demand and payment of illegal gratification.
"In view of facts discussed above, there is reason to believe that the then Home Secretary and Home Minister were in the knowledge of the matter of Mis TSPL and work of Mis TSPL was done through them but it is not ascertained at this stage whether, Sh. P Chidambaram, the then Home Minister and the then Home Secretary were in the knowledge of afore-said demand and payment of illegal gratification or not. Information exists that Sh. P Chidambaram had been on the board of Vedanta Group whereas his son Sh. Karti P Chidambaram had taken financial favour from Mis Sterlite Optical Technologies Limited, Mumbai (a Vedanta Group Company), which had lent Rs. 1.5 Crore in November, 2003 to his company namely Mis Meltraack India Limited, Chennai and the interest thereupon was waived-off in August 2004 (when Sh. P Chidambaram sworn as the Finance Minister, Govt. of India)," the FIR reads
Meanwhile, Republic has also accessed details of the email exchanges between Karti Chidambaram, his close aide Bhaskararaman and Talwandi Sabo power project's Vikas Makharia. The email exchange pertained to re-issuance of visas. The email dates back to 2011. Moreover, it has also emerged that a meeting took place between Bhaskararaman and the company representative wherein it was assured that the payment will be made and the payment was shown as consultancy fees. In addition, it has also emerged that the consultancy fees was paid from a company that is into the business of manufacturing industrial knives.
A single time payment of Rs 50 lakh was made for the 263 visas. Meanwhile, the agency has already questioned representatives of the company. Company representative who paid the money has also been questioned. The CBI has also stated that the number of visas issued could be more than 263.
On Tuesday, the CBI teams conducted coordinated search operations at 10 locations in multiple cities in the country, including residences of the Chidambarams in Chennai and Delhi on early morning after registering the FIR. The case pertains to CBI's allegations that Karti Chidambaram had made backdoor efforts and had allegedly received Rs 50 lakh bribe to facilitate the visa of 263 Chinese nationals during the UPA regime for Talwandi Sabo power project in July-August 2011. At the time, his father - P Chidambaram was the Union home minister, as per the CBI officials
Apart from Karti Chidambaram, the agency has also named his close associate S Bhaskararaman, representative of Talwandi Sabo power project Vikas Makharia who allegedly offered the bribe, the company Talwandi Sabo Power Limited, Mumbai-based Bell Tools Limited through which bribes were alleged routed and unidentified others in the FIR registered under 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 477A(falsification of accounts) and section 8 and 9 of Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI teams had also recovered some documents from the hard drive of Bhaskararaman showing suspicious transaction of Rs 50 lakh based on which the agency had registered a preliminary enquiry.
The FIR was registered based on the findings of preliminary enquiry. Moreover, the agency has also alleged that the Talwandi Sabo Power based at Mansa, Punjab was in the process of establishing a 1980 MW thermal power plant for which establishing of plant was out-sourced to a Chinese company. The project was said to be behind its schedule and the company was allegedly facing prospects of penalty, CBI spokesperson R C Joshi said in a statement, reported PTI.
(With PTI inputs)