New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) A special court today extended by two days the ED custody of Karti Chidambarams chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman in connection with the INX Media money laundering case after the agency said his sustained custodial interrogation was required.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told the special judge N K Malhotra that Bhaskararaman was not cooperating in the investigation which led to his arrested unlike Karti who appeared before the agency and cooperated with the investigation.
The submission was made by ED prosecutor Rajeev Awasthi in opposition to the CAs contention that his arrest was "gross abuse of power" and his subsequent custody was not required and the other accused persons, including Karti, were still not arrested.
"Karti appeared before the agency and cooperated in the investigation. That is why we did not arrest him but the present accused was not cooperating," Awasthi said.
The agency sought seven more days of custody of Bhaskararaman, who was produced before the court on expiry of five-day ED custody, saying there were contradictions between his latest statements and those he had recorded before the arrest.
"The money trail has to be traced. During the search operations, thousands of documents were recovered. Crucial piece of investigation have been recovered. We are putting those documents before him. The probe is ongoing and is at a very crucial stage," the agency said.
The defence advocate opposed the EDs application saying that the arrest was "gross abuse of power". He said "the arrest of my client is gross abuse of power which was not necessary. His co-accused Karti is not arrested in the case."
Bhaskararaman, who was arrested from a five-star hotel in the heart of the national capital, was produced before the court after expiry of five-day ED custody.
Kartis name had cropped up in the case which relates to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval granted in 2007 for receipt of funds by INX Media when his father and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was the Union finance minister during the previous UPA regime.
The ED had earlier alleged that during the course of investigation, it was revealed that Bhaskararaman, a qualified chartered accountant, has been assisting Karti to manage his huge ill-gotten wealth in India and abroad.
The agency had said that the investigation required the presence of Bhaskararaman for collecting vital evidence and other necessary information which is within his special knowledge and exclusive domain.
It had alleged that INX Media had deliberately and in violation of the conditions of the approval made a downstream investment of 26 per cent in the capital of INX News Pvt Ltd without specific approval of FIPB, which included indirect foreign investment by same foreign investors, and had generated Rs 305 crore foreign direct investment in INX Media Pvt Ltd against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crore.
To wriggle out of the situation without any punitive action, INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti, it had claimed.
The FIPB unit of the finance ministry not only granted the illegal approval but also misinformed the investigation wing of Income Tax Department, the ED had alleged.
It had said the CAs custody was required to ascertain the trail of various properties involved in money laundering, to identify movable and immovable properties, involved and to further ascertain the role of the accused and his other associates in the case. PTI UK RKS ARC -