The Central Bureau of Investigation’s case against senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram in the INX Media scam is not mere conjecture.
In its review petition filed before the Supreme Court, the probe agency says rather it is strongly pivoted on three key evidences — crucial disclosure by a witness, Indrani Mukherjee’s statement and documentary evidence — of the money stashed in countries across the world linked to the scam and for FIPB approvals to the INX Media group.
According to a CBI source: “We are probing a camouflaged trail in which the money has been deposited under various names in bank accounts spread over nearly a dozen countries. Our case is based on clear and unambiguous testimonies and evidences recorded under Sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC, where witnesses have come on record to state that Chidambaram is pressurising them against deposing in court.”
The CBI had on Friday filed a review petition in the apex court challenging the three-judge high court bench order that granted bail to Chidambaram in INX Media case.
The CBI said the investigation has revealed other instances where it appears that Karti P. Chidambaram through ASCPL (Advantage Strategic), a company owned by him, received amounts as consultancy / commission from six other companies, which were granted FIPB approval.
The CBI insists the apex court declined to peruse statements of material witnesses that it submitted in a sealed cover. “We have explained every bit of these crucial statements to the High Court. This is a very complicated case of money laundering where we have collected emails as part of documentary evidence, but failed to see similar engagement from the top court,” added the source.
The agency said the top court should not have granted bail to Chidambaram without reviewing the statements. But not only did it grant him bail, it also stated that the CBI’s charge of him being able enough to influence witnesses was unsubstantiated and only a generalised apprehension.
“Two witnesses were approached by the SLP petitioner and or his men not to dispose against him or his son,” said CBI in the review petition.
For the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval to INX Media, overseas money transfers between Chidambaram and media company’s co-founder Indrani Mukherjee were taken care of by NSR PE Mauritius, one of the foreign investors.
NSR PE Mauritius registered in Cayman Islands, a tax haven, for the purpose of not disclosing the source of funds.
The CBI has tracked e-mails exchanged by officials of INX Media and Chess Management Services Limited, a company owned by Chidambaram’s son. These emails were on two issues — receipt of excess investment over and above the approved FDI of Rs 4.62 crore and making of downstream investment by INX Media (P) Limited in INX News (P) Limited without FIPB approval.