INX media: Court takes cognisance of ED’s charge sheet

Ten months after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a charge sheet against former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram and others in the INX media case, a local Court today took cognisance of the charge sheet.The Court has issued notices to the former Finance Minister, his son and co-accused asking them to appear on April 7. This was the first filed by ED in the case.The duo stand booked by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ED in the case.The CBI had registered a first information report (FIR) in May 2017 alleging irregularities in the FIPB clearance and the ED lodged a money laundering case in this regard the next year. The agencies alleged that the money was transferred to companies controlled by Chidambaram’s son Karti and that the FIPB clearance was granted on Karti’s intervention. The other accused in the case include the then INX Media Director Indrani Mukerjea and then news director Peter Mukerjea. Indrani Mukerjea was recently allowed to turn an approver in the case.In its FIR, the CBI had alleged that Karti Chidambaram used his influence with officials of the finance ministry to manage a cover-up of illegal foreign investments made by INX Media.According to the FIR, the officials allowed INX Media to seek fresh approval for foreign investment that had already been pocketed by INX Media, owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, co-accused in the murder of Sheena Bora.INX Media was granted approval for an investment of Rs 4.62 crore by the FIPB in May 2007, according to the CBI. The agency held that for “downstream investment” in the company, separate approval would be required.Downstream investment is an indirect foreign investment by one Indian company into another by way of subscription or acquisition of shares. The company allegedly made a downstream investment and generated more than Rs 305 crore of foreign direct investment in INX Media against the approved inflow of Rs 4.62 crore.Acting on a complaint, the investigation wing of the income tax department had sought clarifications from FIPB, promoting the latter to seek explanations from INX Media.To escape punitive action, the company entered into a “criminal conspiracy” with Karti to get “issues resolved amicably by influencing public servants of FIPB”, CBI said. This, the FIR stated, was by “virtue of his relationship with the then finance minister”.The CBI said that officials “advised” INX Media to apply afresh for FIPB approval for the downstream investment that had already been made by the company. Its FIR said that officials “ignored” the request of the department of revenue to investigate the matter. Acting on the “advice” of the officials, INX Media sought fresh permission for downstream investment from the board, it said.
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