Karti Chidambaram has flown out to London with a friend barely hours before the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against him. The CBI had, two days ago, raided his house in Chennai and other properties.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “This was a trip to London that was already scheduled.” He added, “Karti is travelling as per earlier travel plans. He will return after a few days. There is no ban on his travel.” Karti, who is under preliminary probe for facilitating "irregular" FIPB clearance to INX Media in 2007, is understood to have flown British Airways.
“It was a scheduled trip, not a sudden one. Tickets were bought long time ago. I will be back soon,” Karti told the media earlier.
Earlier this week, the premier investigating agency had registered an FIR which listed criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.
In the FIR Karti is alleged to have got Rs 3.5 crore from INX media, now 9X media, for helping it in the clearance of a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) proposal when his father was Finance Minister. The FIPB clearance was given to Mumbai-based INX Media when it was run by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, both accused in Sheena Bora murder case.
The FIR was registered also against Karti’s company Chess Management Services, the Mukerjeas and Advantage Strategic Consulting Services and its director and Karti's friend Padma Bhaskararaman, wife of Karti's friend S Bhaskararaman.
Intriguingly, an Enforcement Directorate probe into alleged FEMA violations by Karti Chidambaram had also reportedly revealed that she was a school teacher who was listed as promoter and director of Advantage in all official records, primarily in order to cloud the true ownership. In addition, Padma's brother Ravi was also listed officially as a promoter of ASCPL to obfuscate the trail to Karti's ownership of the firm.
The CBI FIR contends that an estimated Rs 3.5 crore were raised, "directly or indirectly" in favour of INX group in the name of other companies in which Karti had substantial interests.
It is the CBI's contention that Karti Chidambaram, using influence as the son of the then finance minister Mr P Chidambaram, had "helped" Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, owners of INX Medi circumvent rules. The Mukerjeas are in jail for the murder of Sheena Bora, Indrani's daughter.
Both Karti and his father had accused the CBI of political vendetta wreaked on them on behalf of the Modi government when the raids were underway.