ED probes PC role in Aircel case

Under lens is payment shown as 'consultancy services'

ED probes PC role in Aircel case

Congress leader P Chidambaram is in for more trouble as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has informed a special 2G scam court that it is probing Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) nod in Aircel-Maxis controversial deal during his the stint as finance minister.

Investigating suspected money laundering in the sale of Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis, the ED said in its chargesheet filed in the court of Special Judge OP Saini that Aircel’s parent company Aircel Televentures (ATVL) gave possibly Rs 26 lakh in April 2006 to Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (ASCPL) which was owned by Chidambaram’s son Karti, said sources in legal fraternity.  The payment was shown as “consultancy services”.
On Saturday, Judge Saini took cognizance and allowed the ED to continue with the investigation.

The Congress leader, however, has always denied the charges about his role in Aircel-Maxis deal since the CBI in its 2014 chargesheet had stated that he gave FIPB approval, instead of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs clearing $800 million foreign investment by Mauritius-based Global Communications Services Holdings.

In December 2015, the ED and the Income Tax raided Karti’s office and other premises in Chennai which was dubbed as “fishing and roving” exercise by Chidambaram. The IT sources claim they were shifting through crucial documents running into lakhs of pages on Karti’s business.

Other companies – Ausbridge Holdings and Investments Pvt Ltd, Kriya FMCG Distributors Pvt Ltd, Chess Health Care Solutions Pvt Ltd, Chess Management Services and Halidon Marketing Pvt Ltd  are either Karti’s or owned by his associates are under the scanner of the ED sleuths.

The investigations, interestingly, revealed that Advantage was incorporated in July 2005 and 10,000 shares held by Ravi Visvanathan and Padma Visvanathan were issued and the control over ASCPL shifted to Ausbridge Holdings and Kriya FMCG.

The investigators doubt genuineness of the transactions since Ausbridge was formed on January 7, 2006 which was 23 days before Aircel applied for FIPB clearance.

Another flow of funds that has caught the attention of the ED is that ASCPL issued 2 lakh shares at the rate of Rs 2.5 per share to Ausbridge in 2011 which put together works out to Rs 5 lakh, said sources. 

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