Chidambaram used web of shell companies: ED in SC

Chidambaram used web of shell companies: ED in SC

In an affidavit submitted in Supreme Court opposing Chidambaram's plea for anticipatory bail in INX Media case, the ED said the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has given "specific inputs" about the former minister and his associates having "accounts/valuable properties" in Argentina, Austria, British Virginia Island, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Sri Lanka. (Reuters File Photo)

Former finance minister P Chidambaram and his "co-conspirators" have opened bank accounts and amassed properties in 12 countries, including France, Singapore and Spain after "cleverly" creating a "web of shell companies", the Enforcement Directorate claimed in Supreme Court on Monday.

In an affidavit submitted in Supreme Court opposing Chidambaram's plea for anticipatory bail in INX Media case, the ED said the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has given "specific inputs" about the former minister and his associates having "accounts/valuable properties" in Argentina, Austria, British Virginia Island, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Sri Lanka.

Chidambaram was arrested last week in the INX Media case in which he is accused of illegally clearing the foreign direct investment proposal of the media company and asking the promoters of the company to help his son in his business. His son Karti, a Lok Sabha MP who was arrested last year in the case, is accused of demanding USD one million for the job. Both have denied the allegations.

The ED claimed in the affidavit that Chidambaram and his associates "cleverly created a web of shell companies both in India and in many other countries for routing/layering and laundering the proceeds of crime". These companies were either incorporated by "co-conspirators" at Chidambaram's behest and the shareholding pattern was changed to use them for the execution of scheme of money laundering, it claimed.

The agency informed the court that it has "substantial evidence" to show that persons close to the former minister "created such shell companies", which were used for money laundering. It also claimed two individuals were found to have acted as Chidambaram's "agents" and "interacted/ liasoned with the parties applying" for clearance for FDI as well as collected money.

It also claimed that the companies incorporated abroad were only on paper and were "used only" for money laundering.

The agency has found out that there “several shell companies, 17 unnamed foreign bank accounts (directly referable to the petitioner – Chidambaram – and his co-conspirators) through which money is laundered and are invested in several properties out of which ten expensive properties situated outside have been identified so far”, the affidavit said.

It said that Chidambaram and his associates have “changed the shareholding pattern of shell companies as well as have made changes in the Directors of such shell companies during the investigation so as to distance himself (Chidambaram) and his family from the money already laundered and invested”.

The ED also claimed that it was found that there were attempts at not only destroy evidence but trying to influence witnesses. (ENDS)