With co-accused Indrani Mukerjea getting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s no-objection on Friday to turn Approver in the INX Media bribery case, the bribe receivers former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and son Karti’s fate is almost sealed. The Mumbai Court ordered for her to be produced before the Delhi Court on May 23. Apart from getting bribes, Chidambaram’s worries are to increase as her statement to agencies reveals that how Chidambaram pressured her to oblige to many things. It is learned that she confessed that she was forced to oblige to the demands of Chidambaram due to the Income Tax notice of more than Rs.300 crores hanging over her like a Damocles’ sword.
Indrani is currently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Jail, from where she appeared via video-conference, awaiting trial for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora. The young girl was her elder daughter from her first marriage. Her current husband, Peter Mukerjea, the promoter of Star TV in India is also an accused in this murder case. He is also a co-accused in the bribery scandal along with Chidambaram’s son Karti. Delhi High Court has already reserved for orders in January 2019 in the CBI and ED’s demand for custodial interrogation of Chidambaram.
With Indrani turning Approver, CBI and ED are expected to charge sheet both father and son duo.
INX Media bribery case
In 2007, INX Media TV Channel owners Peter and Indrani got FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval only to bring Rs.5 crores as foreign investment. But they illegally brought Rs.305 crores and were caught by Income Tax (IT) in 2008. When they got a notice from the IT department, Indrani and Peter approached the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram. In her confession statement, Indrani said that Chidambaram promised to save her from Income Tax prosecution and recommended that she give Rs.5 crores to Karti. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) found that this bribe money was parked in Karti’s two controversial firms – Advantage Strategic Consulting and Chess Management Services. After getting the bribe, Chidambaram, who headed the FIPB gave an illegal post-facto clearance to INX Media and blocked the Income Tax prosecution for illegally routing Rs.305 crores from tax havens.
INX media bribery case was unearthed after ED’s Investigating Officer Rajeshwar Singh conducted raids at Chidambaram’s home and Karti’s firms in connection with Aircel-Maxis probe in December 2014. The ED and Income Tax joint probe also exposed the illegal assets in 14 countries and 21 foreign bank accounts of the family.
CBI arrested Karti in February 2018 and sensing danger, Chidambaram rushed to the Delhi High Court and the 2G trial Court to obtain interim protection from arrest. In October 2018, ED had attached Karti’s properties worth more than Rs.54 crores in Delhi, Ooty, London, and Spain.
With Indrani turning Approver, CBI and ED are expected to charge sheet both father and son duo. Apart from the clear involvement in the bribery, more hot revelation of Chidambaram’s activities are expected to be revealed by Indrani in the Court.