After allegations of running shell companies in foreign countries and buying benami properties overseas, Karti Chidambaram's family has shot off a letter to media, urging it to refrain from reporting "wild, unverified and unsubstantiated allegations". The letter said the allegations against Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram were "unsubstantiated", and were being levelled to "demonise and humiliate" him. "We are confident that ultimately, the truth will prevail. P Chidambaram has been public life for nearly 50 years and his impeccable honesty, work as well as contribution can't be wiped out by a campaign of vilification," said the letter.
The Chidambarams said the family had enough wealth and were income tax assesses, and that they did not need to seek money in unlawful ways. "We are therefore astounded by allegations of properties in multiple countries, multiple bank accounts, numerous shell companies, etc. These chapters are plucked out of ghost stories, one day these ghosts will be buried," added the latter.
The family challenged the government to produce even a "shred of evidence in support of one undisclosed bank account, one undisclosed property or one shell company anywhere in the world". It also urged the media should remember that "rule of law will protect all of us including the media".
The letter comes a day after it was reported that two directors of a shell company, which is accused of receiving kickbacks from Karti, deposed before the Enforcement Directorate (ED), confessing he was its actual owner. The agency has also accused the shell firm, Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Ltd (ASCPL), of paying personal expenses, including travel bills, of his father P Chidambaram. These two directors, Ravi Visvanathan and Padma Bhaskararaman, stated before the ED that their roles were limited to signing invoices and papers and that they did everything on the instructions of Karti and his charted accountant S Bhaskararaman, reported The Economic Times. S Bhaskararaman's wife, Padma Bhaskararaman, is also the sister of Ravi Visvanathan, one of the two directors of ASCPL. Their statements, which have been recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, will be admissible in a court of law.
BusinessToday.In had recently reported the ED also possesses a copy of an email that shows Karti owns benami properties in the United Kingdom. The email tracks conversation between Karti's property dealer Lorraine Mooney and one CBN Reddy and was also marked to Karti. The agency says Karti allegedly gave 1000 pounds to the dealer to maintain his 29 Meade House property in the UK. "I'll need another 1,040 pounds to cover expenses until the end of September. I am happy to wait until K's visit in a few weeks if you would prefer to settle up in cash," read the email. As per the report, 29 Meade House is in the name of one SNJ Limited. The ED has also attached the invoice of the ground rent received by Karti's property dealer.
Apart from the INX Media case, the agencies are also probing the Chidambarams' role in several cases including Aircel Maxis, INX Media, Diageo Scotland and Katara Holdings. The ED has allegedly found many shell companies linked to Karti in India and abroad, one of which allegedly received payments from a British Virgin Island-based company, which had surfaced in the Panama Papers as well.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the interim protection from arrest by the Enforcement Directorate granted to former finance minister P Chidambaram till Wednesday. The apex court will hear Chidambaram's two petitions in relation to the INX Media money laundering case, including challenge to remand orders today. On the next date, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will argue on behalf of Enforcement Directorate.
Edited by Manoj Sharma