Can't share proof against Chidambaram now: ED in SC

Can't share proof against Chidambaram now: ED in SC

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram after being produced at a CBI court in the INX media case, in New Delhi. PTI file photo

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the action against former Union finance minister P Chidambaram was initiated on the basis of specific inputs received from foreign banks, and other materials showing his properties abroad.

Arguing on behalf of the investigating agency, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna that money laundering was still going on and there was no retrospective application of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The agency had accused Chidambaram of having 17 foreign bank accounts and properties in 11 countries, a charge denied by him. Arrested on August 21 after the rejection of anticipatory bail plea by the Delhi High Court, he is at present in custodial interrogation of the CBI.

Opposing the plea for anticipatory bail by Chidambaram, he said the banks abroad had given specific inputs about properties, including house number, along with the companies which owned them. “We have already issued Letters Rogatory sending a judicial request to provide further evidence,” he said.

Mehta maintained that the materials collected by the investigating agency cannot be shared at this stage of anticipatory bail. He said the accused would be arrested only after assessing the materials given in sealed cover to a designated high-level officer.

"We are dealing with very intelligent people. A stupid man cannot launder money. Such an offence is never committed in the heat of the moment, It is to be hidden through layers and layers of concealment. It is difficult to unravel how money laundering took place. Sham and bogus companies were created. The moment, it (material) comes out, the evidence goes," he said.

Maintaining that a “ghost (a kind of smokescreen) was created by playing a victim card” by the accused, he said the materials relied upon by the agency cannot be shared.

The top court, which had already granted protection from arrest to Chidambaram on August 23, further extended and decided to continue hearing his plea on Thursday in the 2017 case arisen out of FIPB clearance to the INX media in 2007 during his tenure as Finance Minister.