NEW DELHI: The CBI on Friday filed an over 2,000-page chargesheet against former finance minister P Chidambaram, his son Karti, former media baron Peter Mukerjea and 11 others, including six former officials of the finance ministry in the INX Media case. The CBI charged bureaucrats Sindhushree Khullar, the then additional secretary in finance ministry; Anup K Poojari, former secretary in the ministry of MSME; Prabodh Saxena, principal secretary in the Himachal Pradesh government; and Rabindra Prasad, a former under-secretary rank official. Two other government officials named are Pradeep Kumar Bagga, the then OSD in the department of economic affairs; and Ajit Dungdung, former section officer of the FIPB unit. Karti’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman has also been charged.One of the main planks of CBI’s case is the allegation of Indrani Mukerjea, formerly of INX Media, that she was asked by Chidambaram to help with his son Karti’s business and make “possible overseas remittances” in lieu of regularisation of FIPB violations by her media firm. Indrani, who is accused of murdering her daughter, has not been charged as she had turned approver and will be made a prosecution witness. The accused individuals and entities have been charged under sections of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act for causing loss to the exchequer. The were allegedly involved in processing the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance of INX Media. The chargesheet, filed before special judge Lal Singh, named INX Media Pvt Ltd (presently 9X Media Pvt Ltd), INX News Pvt Ltd (presently Direct News), Chennai-based Chess Management Services and Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd as accused firms. The chargesheet said Indrani and her husband Peter Mukerjea had met Chidambaram in his office chamber in North Block after submitting the application for FDI approval. Chidambaram had allegedly asked them to help his son Karti with his business and make “possible overseas remittances” in lieu of FIPB approval. When she complied, the FIPB file moved swiftly among the bureaucrats involved and clearance was granted soon after, the chargesheet said. In a statement, the CBI said, “During investigation, it was found that two then directors of Mumbai-based private media company allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with the then finance minister, his son (the then director of management services company based at Chennai) and certain then public servants of FIPB unit for getting the said issues settled without any penal action against them and thereby caused undue pecuniary advantage to the companies in terms of possible fiscal penalty under FEMA, which could have been up to three times of the total amount involved. “It was also found that the said then director of the management services company had allegedly floated a front company (a private consulting company based at Chennai) for receiving illegal payoffs in the guise of various consultancies, other fees and payments. The Mumbai-based media company also made an alleged payment of Rs 9.96 lakh into the account of the said front company (a consulting company) as illegal payoff without delivering any service.”
Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI on August 21 from his Jor Bagh residence in Delhi. A court on Thursday extended his judicial custody till October 24 in the INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as the finance minister.