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INX Media case: ED arrests P Chidambaram in Tihar; to grill him on fresh evidence

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 16, 2019  | 17:21 IST

(Eds: With additional inputs) New Delhi, Oct 16 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested former finance minister P Chidambaram in Tihar Jail on Wednesday in connection with its probe in the INX Media money laundering case as it now prepares to put him through extensive grilling sessions, officials said. The investigating team followed procedure after a court here on Tuesday had allowed the agency to interrogate the senior Congress leader, lodged in the jail in the CBI case, and arrest him, if necessary, in this case, they said.  A three-member team of investigators of the central agency who arrived at the prison at 8:15 am remained in the premises for about two hours during which they briefly questioned 74-year-old Chidambaram after which he was placed under arrest.  The arrest has been made under the provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and his statement was also recorded under this same provision, they said.  The ED subsequently sought 14-day custodial interrogation of the former Union minister from a court here. The Congress MP has been grilled by the ED in this case many times in the past but it had never arrested him as he enjoyed a court-issued order of directing the agency not to take coercive step like arrest against him. Sources indicated that Chidambaram will now be put through some fresh evidence, obtained from offshore jurisdictions, and confronted with the statement of other accused in the case once his full-time questioning begins, after the grant of custody. Statements given by the accountant of his son Karti and those of others will be put across to him. It is understood that the ED investigating officer will seek answers from him regarding certain foreign-based assets linked to the Chidambaram family including those attached by it in the name of Karti. Last year in October, it had attached assets worth Rs 54 crore of Karti Chidambaram, in India, the UK and Spain, under the PMLA. The agency is also working to file its first charge sheet or prosecution compliant in the case and it may include Chidambaram's forthcoming statements too. The ED had filed a criminal case under the PMLA in 2017 to probe this deal of alleged irregularities in the grant of FIPB approval to INX Media group. INX Media got its FIPB (foreign investment promotion board) approvals in 2007-08 when Chidambaram was serving as the Union finance minister. It is alleged that this approval was not legal and agencies have charged Chidambaram with committing corruption and money laundering by taking kickbacks from promoter couple of the media group, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, through Karti.  The FIPB was scrapped by the Modi government in 2017.  Chidambaram has spent about 55 days in CBI and judicial custody till now after he was arrested on August 21 in this case.  Karti and his mother Nalini also visited the Tihar jail premises this morning.  Talking to reporters outside the jail, Karti reiterated that the investigation in this case was a "political vendetta" and a "charade being played out for the vicarious pleasure of few people". "I came to meet him (father Chidambaram) as part of my weekly visits... he is in good spirits. Whatever these (probe) procedural games are being played are for political theatrics," Karti said. This is a bogus investigation to continue and keep the former Union finance minister and the home minister in some sort of custody, he said. Karti is also an accused and has been arrested in this case by the CBI in the past. PTI NES ZMN

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