The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids at premises linked to Karti Chidambaram in connection with the investigation in the Aircel-Maxis case. As many as nine premises in Chennai and the residence of Karti's father, former Congress leader P Chidambaram, in Delhi were searched by the agency in the raids.
Those searched include a chartered accountant linked to Karti, his personal assistant and Karti's residence at Thousand Lights area in Chennai, sources were quoted in a PTI report. The sources added that ED has seized certain "incriminating" the raids.
Talking to media personnel later outside his Jorbagh residence, P Chidambaram called the raids against his son "a comedy of errors". The former Union Minister claimed the officers were left "embarrassed" and "apologetic" as they could not find anything at his house.
The central probe agency had, on December 1 last year, conducted similar searches on the premises of a relative of Karti and others in this case.
"Since they had the search warrant, I did not raise any objections to the search but I said I will record my protest that there is no FIR in respect of the scheduled crime registered by any investigating agency including the CBI. There are obviously no proceeds of crime and the ED has no jurisdiction under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)," P Chidambaram said here.
ED sources said the raids were based on the FIR registered by the agency and the CBI in the case that has not been quashed by the court. The ED case pertains to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval granted in 2006 by P Chidambaram while he held the office of Finance Minister.
The ED had said it is investigating the circumstances of the said FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister, P Chidambaram. The agency claimed that Karti has "disposed of" a property in Gurgaon, which he had allegedly rented out to a multinational company "to whom foreign direct investment (FDI) approval had been granted in 2013".
It charged that Karti had "also closed certain bank accounts and attempted to close other bank accounts in order to frustrate the process of attachment" under the PMLA.
The agency said FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis FDI case was granted in March, 2006 by the then finance minister even though he was competent to accord approval on project proposals only up to Rs 600 crore. The power to approve project proposals worth above Rs 600 crore rests with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
"In the instant case, the approval for FDI of 800 million USD (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, CCEA was competent to grant approval. However, approval was not obtained from CCEA," it alleged.
Karti is also being probed by the ED in an another money laundering case pertaining to the INX media deal. He has been asked to appear by the agency on January 16 in this case.
(With PTI inputs)