New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to tighten the noose around former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX media case following the revelation by chartered accountant Bhaskar Raman that a shell company, also owned by Karti Chidambaram, paid for his travel and other expenses.
A senior ED source related to the probe told IANS, “The revelations were made during Raman’s questioning last year.” The details of payments for the travel bill and other expenses were found in the documents and hard disks, seized by the Income Tax authorities during raids at the official premises of Karti-promoted Chess Global Advisory Services in Chennai.
“When Raman was confronted with the documents and hard disks he confessed about the same,” the official said. Raman, arrested by the Centrel Bureau of Investigation (CBI) last year, is out on bail.
According to the source, when the former Finance Minister was asked about his travel bills and other expenses being paid by the shell company, he described them as baseless.
The CBI had arrested Chidambaram on Wednesday after a 24-hour drama in a case of alleged irregularities in the grant of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to the INX media group, when he was the Finance Minister. Next day, a Delhi court sent him to five-day CBI custody.
The ED was also probing bank accounts of Advantage Strategic Consulting (ASCPL) as the documents also mentioned its name, the source said.
According to sources, in September 2008 ASCPL received Rs 35 Lakh from INX Media (now known as News X TV Channel), which had applied for the FIPB nod to its $220 million proposal during the period.
On the same day, Rs 60 Lakh was paid by INX Media to Northstar Software Solutions. Majority stake in Northstar Software Solutions is controlled by C.B.N. Reddy, who is also a director at ASCPL and its Singapore subsidiary.
The source said the ED was also probing five different directors of ASCPL. Besides Reddy and Raman, also on the financial probe agency’s radar are Mohanan Rajesh, Ravi Viswanathan and V Padma.
According to the source, the agency suspects the father-son duo of owning several immoveable properties and over 16 bank accounts in other countries, which they are trying to identify to get find out the money trail.
The ED probe has also highlighted how persons connected with shell companies executed a will in favour of Chidambaram’s grand-daughter.
On Friday, the CBI sent letter rogatory to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Bermuda, Mauritius and Singapore, seeking details of shell companies allegedly floated by Chidambaram and his son and their bank account details.
The CBI is investigating Chidambaram in the INX Media case, registered on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance granted to it for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during his tenure as the Finance Minister.