Aircel-Maxis deal: Trouble for P Chidambaram, Karti far from over; ED status report to SC likely in March

New Delhi: Trouble is mounting for former finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in Aircel-Maxis deal have said that alleged irregularities in the grant of clearance in the case are still alive and they are further probing the linkages to establish payoffs. The CBI has already arrested Karti on Wednesday in INX group case, alleging that he influenced FIPB approval for illegal foreign investment in INX Media.

File image of P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram. PTI

File image of P Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram. PTI

Firstpost has reviewed the ED note, which said Karti was not part of the charge sheet that was quashed by the court in Aircel-Maxis case and the agency is likely to submit a status report before the Supreme Court in the first week of March.

The ED note said: "It is revealed during the course of investigation that Rs.27.55 Lakh was paid to Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited (ASCPL) by Aircel Televenture Limited (ATVL). The financial trasanctions are based on the invoice dated 29.03.2006 issued by ASCPL and raised upon ATVL vide bill number ASCPL/0506/005. The billing was named under professional charges towards management consultancy services rendered by ASCPL. ATVL paid Rs. 26,00,444 vide cheque number 984075 dated 11.04.2006 of State Bank of India, CAG branch Chennai after deducting TDS."

The agency also observed that there are no documents other than payment voucher of ATVL and a copy of the invoice raised by ASCPL and the genuineness and bonafide of the payment is not supported by board resolution passed by ATVL and no agreement and terms and conditions in respect of this transaction with ASCPL.

"Profile of ASCPL reveals, inter alia, that company was incorporated on 12.07.2005 in Chennai. At the time of incorporation, 10,000 shares were issued which were held by Padma Visvanathan and Ravi Visvanathan. This company was brought under the control of the individual and two companies (Linked with Karti P Chidambaram) subsequently. In the year 2009 CBN Reddy and Kriya FMCG Distributors Private Limited were allotted 19% shares and in the year 2011 Ausbridge Holdings and Investment Private Limited was allotted 67% shares and became major shareholders.
Examination of the documents reveal that application to FIPB was filed on 30.01.2006 by Aircel Limited and Ausbridge was incorporated on 07.01.2006," the probe agency documents revealed.

The probe found that FIPB approval on 20 March 2006 permitted the takeover of Aircel Limited. The application before FIPB was filed by Global Communication Services Holdings Limited, Mauritius. The agency claimed that the approval was given by then finance minister P Chidambaram, although amount for consideration before FIPB was $800 million, which was in the competence of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The payment of Rs 26 lakh by the ATVL (parent company of Aircel Limited) was made to ASCPL on 11 April 2006.

"The investigation has further revealed that ASCPL issued 66% (2 lakh shares) equity to the company Ausbridge in 2011 on the payment of Rs. 5 lakh i.e.@Rs. 2.5 per share only because of the persons behind the company Ausbridge-Karti P Chidambaram and M. rajesh. Whereas, book value of the company was Rs. 140.33 on 31.03.2010 and Rs. 129 as on 31.03.2011. In the year 2008, ASCPL allotted share at the premium of Rs.77.50 per share. The net worth of ASCPL in the year 2011 was Rs.18 Crore approx. The company ASCPL was already in financial transactions with the other companies of Karti P Chidambaram since 2005-06 namely Chess Management Services Private Limited, Chess Health Care Solutions Private Limited and Halidon Marketing Private Limited," the ED note said.

Visvanathan told the ED that he, his sister and CBN Reddy are the directors of ASCPL and Visvanathan used to attend company’s function as a signatory.

"Works of the company were done by S.Bhaskaraman, who is having no position in the ASCPL however, he is looking after financial matters of Karti P Chidambaram since years back. Investigation has revealed that ASCPL was/is a company of Karti P.Chidambaram, managed by S. Bhaskaraman," the ED note said. The ED in September 2017 had attached assets linked to Karti’s firms, which was challenged by him in the Supreme Court.


Updated Date: Feb 28, 2018 19:07 PM

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