Within 60 days of arrest, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday charge-sheeted the former Finance and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram in the INX Media bribery case along with his son Karti Chidambaram and the TV channel company’s promoter Peter Mukerjea. A total of 10 persons and four companies are charge-sheeted including the former Finance Minister. Others are Bhaskararaman (Chartered Accountant of Chidambaram family), Government officials Sidhushree Khullar, Anoop Poojari, Prabodh Saxena, P K Bagga, Rabindra Prasad, Ajit Kumar Dungdung, also accused in the charge sheet.
The companies booked are INX Media Private Limited (now named as 9X Media Ltd.), INX News Pvt. Ltd. (now named as Direct News Pvt. Ltd.) and bribe-money routed Karti’s firms Chess Management Services Pvt. Ltd. and Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
Retired IAS officer and former Niti Ayog CEO Sindushree Khullar was a close confidant of Chidambaram and was an Additional Secretary in the Finance Ministry when INX Media bribery scam happened. Anoop K Pujari IAS was Joint Secretary in Finance Ministry and IAS officer Prabodh Saxena was the then Director in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Other officers of FIPB mentioned as accused were the then Under Secretary Rabindra Prasad and then Section Officer Ajit Kumar Dungdung. Chidambaram’s minion and former Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in Finance Ministry, P K Bagga is also named as an accused. Bagga later worked as a consultant in the renowned law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, which was many times represented by Chidambaram as Advocate. The accused are charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC provisions of criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery.
The trial court is expected to hear CBI’s preliminary arguments on the charge sheet on October 21st. The CBI is expected to file an additional charge sheet after the completion of probes related to the money trail by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Currently, the CBI has shown the money trail of Rs.9.9 lakhs from INX Media to Karti’s firm Advantage Consulting. CBI is expected to file the money trail of Rs.3.4 crores to Karti’s other firm Chess Management soon. According to investigators, the agency is waiting for replies to the Letters Rogatory (LR) from the foreign banks on these payments to Karti’s firm.
The agency is also corroborating the confession of approver Indrani Mukerjea who informed the investigators that she paid 5 million dollars (Rs.25 crores) to Karti and Chidambaram suggested firms in offshore tax havens.
The INX Media bribery case was unearthed by the ED’s Investigating Officer Rajeshwar Singh during the raid at Chidambaram’s home and Karti’s firms in connection with the probe on Aircel-Maxis scam.
The Enforcement Directorate will also charge sheet the father and son duo in the coming months for money laundering related crimes in the INX Media bribery case. The ED has already attached Rs.54 crores worth properties in Ooty, Delhi, London, and Spain in this matter. Chidambaram and Karti already charge-sheeted by CBI and ED in the Aircel-Maxis scam. Karti, his mother Nalini and his wife Srinidhi are already charge-sheeted under the Black Money Act.
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