It was the then owners of INX media, Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea, who led the CBI and ED investigators to focus their attention towards former union minister P Chidambaram and ultimately the later was arrested last night.
In their statement to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement directorate (ED), both of them said that it was Chidambaram who asked them to meet his son Karti, back in 2006 when they had gone to meet him in his North Block office.Chidambaram suggested that the Mukerjeas help Karti with his business.
Indrani’s statement under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is major evidence against P Chidambaram in ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) probes.
“Peter started the conversation with Mr P Chidambaram referring to the application of INX Media for bringing in FDI and handed copy of the application to Mr P Chidambaram. After having understood the issue, Mr P Chidambaram told Peter to help his son Karti in his business and make possible overseas remittances in lieu of FIPB approval,” Indrani’s statement read.
In his statement, Peter Mukerjea told ED investigators that he met P Chidambaram two or three times and on each occasion, the meetings were courtesy calls to explain the transition of their media business.
However, he added that he met Chidambaram also “to ensure that there was no hold-up or delay in their application and Chidambaram asked for his son’s business interests to be kept in mind, if any opportunity arose and for making overseas payments”.
He said in his statement that he along with his wife met Karti along with another person at Hyatt Delhi. “The issue at hand was to regularise the over-invested amount as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),” Peter said.
On February 17, 2018, Indrani recorded her statement saying that Karti had asked the Mukerjeas for a bribe of $1 million during their meeting at Hyatt hotel in Delhi. Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL), Karti’s company was engaged with Mukerjeas.
ASCPL and its associated companies raised four invoices for $700,000 on INX media which were later reimbursed as part of alleged quid pro quo agreement.
Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) gave permission to fix the irregularities. In March 2007, INX Media breached the condition according to a CBI official. FIPB had allowed INX media to raise 46% equity through the issue of shares. The company has permission to raise Rs 4.62 crore by issuing shares at face value but the company got in Rs 305 crore by issuing shares at premium.
Moreover, it passed FIPB to make 26% downstream investment in INX News Pvt Ltd. Earlier in February 2018, Karti was arrested.