In fresh trouble for former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, sources have confirmed to Republic TV that the Enforcement Directorate will file another chargesheet in the Aircel-Maxis case, and is likely to name the senior Congress leader as an accused. Sources also added that the ED has come across a financial trail of over Rs 50 lakhs, an amount which was allegedly paid to Chidambaram’s aides.
Earlier in July, the CBI had filed a charge sheet in this case, wherein Chidambaram, along with his son Karti Chidambaram and 10 others were named. The Aircel-Maxis case, which arose from the 2G spectrum allocation scam, pertains to FIPB clearances being given to Malaysian firm Maxis Communications for investment in the erstwhile India-based telecommunications company Aircel during the time that P Chidambaram was Finance Minister.
The ED had earlier said that the FIPB approval granted in 2006 by Chidambaram was beyond his mandate as he was only authorised to accord approval on project proposals up to Rs 600 crore. P. Chidambaram's son Karti was arrested on February 28 at the Chennai airport upon his return from the United Kingdom, for his alleged role in the case.
WHAT IS P CHIDAMBARAM AND THE FIPB'S INVOLVEMENT?
The deal to acquire Aircel entailed a foreign investment, which, as per the extant norms required clearance from the (now defunct) Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The FIPB at that time reported to the Union Finance Minister, i.e. P Chidambaram. However, the Finance Minister at that time was only competent to give sanction up to Rs 600 crore. Anything in excess of that figure would have to be referred to the Cabinet Committee On Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister.
At that time, Chidambaram had said that the Aircel-Maxis deal file had been put up before him by FIPB officials and he had approved it "in the normal course".
“In the Aircel-Maxis case, the FIPB sought the approval of the finance minister in accordance with the rules. The case was submitted through the additional secretary and secretary, DEA. Both of them recommended the case for approval. Approval was granted by me, as finance minister, in the normal course”, Chidambaram had said in a statement.
The ED (which had named Karti Chidambaram as an accused in its chargesheet) has since said that its probe has revealed that the case of the said foreign direct investment was “wrongly projected as an investment of ₹180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny”.