ED names Indian’s former FM as accused in Aircel-Maxis case  

Former Indian finance minister and senior leader of Congress party P Chidambaram, above, has been named by the Enforcement Directorate(ED) as the main accused in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering cases in its charge-sheet filed at Delhi’s Patiala House court on Thursday.

Chidambaram said he will contest the case in court.

The ED move comes a day before the retirement of the agency’s chief Karnail Singh who wanted to push the important case forward before leaving.

Besides Chidambaram, eight others including his son Karti Chidambaram, S Bhaskaraman and four Maxis companies are among the accused.

The case to be reviewed by CBI special judge OP Saini on November 26 pertains to grant of investment clearance by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to Global Communication Holdings, a subsidiary of Maxis Berhad, Malaysia, when Chidambaram was finance minister in 2006.

In its charge-sheet, ED said Chidambaram, as finance minister, was empowered to approve foreign investments only up to $81 million. But he violated the rule by granting the Malaysian company foreign direct investment six times that amount without referring it to the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval.

ED said Chidambaram wrongly projected a foreign investment of $24 million to avoid scrutiny by CCEA.

The agency said it gathered evidence about the fraud from emails retrieved from the digital devices of Chidambaram’s son, Karti. Money was laundered through Karti’s companies as genuine business deals by Maxis group.

ED investigation showed a clear financial linkage of Karti and his father with these companies. The agency said it will go ahead with the probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Chidambaran says all investment approvals granted during his tenure were legal.

Karti was arrested in February this year on charges of money-laundering in the same case but was granted bail.

Earlier in the day, Chidambaram’s protection from arrest was extended by a court till November 29 in INX Media case.

In that case too, Chidambaram allegedly approved foreign funds to the media company from 2007 after ensuring that his son’s company received kickbacks.

Last year, former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and others, who were accused in the Aircel-Maxis deal cases, were discharged by a special court as the CBI, India’s premier investigation agency, and ED could not prove that Maran had forced Aircel owner C Sivasankaran to sell the company to Maxis.