Aircel-Maxis case: Relief for former finance minister P Chidambaram; no arrest till 10 July

New Delhi: Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram who is expected to depose before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at 11 am today in connection with the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case has been granted relief in the case, according to CNN-News18. He cannot be arrested till 10 July, the channel said.

According to Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is appearing for Chidambaram, the stay on the latter's arrest is on till 10 July. "Since the ED has sought more time to file a response, the interim anticipatory bail will continue till 10 July, he said to reporters. Chidambaram will cooperate with the investigation, Singhvi said.

Once he appears, the agency is expected to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Chidambaram's role has come under the scanner in the Rs 3,500 crore Aircel-Maxis deal in which the ED has already questioned his son, Karti.

Official sources said the ED has issued fresh summons to the senior Congress leader to appear before the investigating officer of the case.

A File photo of P Chidambaram. PTI

A File photo of P Chidambaram. PTI

Chidambaram has to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday.

This is not the first summons given by the ED and CBI to Chidambaram. The former finance minister, also the ex-home minister, had last week approached the court of special judge O P Saini seeking relief from arrest by the ED in this case.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that Chidambaram had tweaked the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) norms for clearing the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006. "Chidambaram had no authority to give the FIPB approvals. His son got the money," Swamy said to CNN-News18 on Tuesday.

On being asked about the 'relief' that Chidambaram received from the ED on Tuesday, Swamy said it was  'no relief'.

"It is political vendetta," has been the common refrain of the Congress in any case that the party members have been named. Swamy termed this complaint as something akin to 'a broken record'.

Earlier, the court granted interim protection to Karti Chidambaram from arrest till 10 July in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED are investigating how Karti Chidambaram allegedly managed to get a clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the Aircel-Maxis deal when his father P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister in 2006.

Financial irregularities in Aircel-Maxis case

The ED is probing the financial irregularities committed as per the PMLA in the case, which is also being investigated by the CBI.

Both agencies are trying to find out how Karti allegedly managed to get a clearance from the FIPB for the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The ED in September last year had also attached Rs 1.16-crore assets of Karti in connection with the case.

According to the CBI charge sheet submitted in the special court, Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for an investment of $800 million in Aircel.

Though it was the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was competent to grant the approval, it was cleared by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram on his own and the amount for FIPB clearance was wrongly projected to conceal the facts.

Seeking a probe into the role of Chidambaram in alleged violation of the FIPB norms for approving the deal, Subramanian Swamy had referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG)'s 2015 report, which points to two alleged illegalities.

According to Swamy, the CAG cited the illegality of FIPB approving Maxis' acquisition of 93.3 percent stake in Aircel Tele Ventures Ltd through its wholly-owned subsidiary, the GCSHL, well in excess of the then ceiling of 74 percent investment by a foreign entity.

The second illegality, Swamy has said, was that since the foreign investment in Aircel was more than Rs 600 crore, it should have gone to the CCEA for approval, but it was instead cleared by the FIPB.

Karti is also an accused in the INX Media Case where he has been charged with receiving irregular FIPB clearance for investments up to Rs 305 crore.

(With PTI inputs)

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Updated Date: Jun 05, 2018 11:05:53 IST

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