Karti Chidambaram appears before ED for 3rd time in less than a month over Chinese visa case

The MP had called the summons in this case a 'routine affair and things that happen routinely especially when elections come near'.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 12, 2024 | 4:03 PMUpdatedJan 12, 2024 | 4:05 PM

Karti Chidambaram

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in New Delhi on Friday, 12 January. This was his third deposition in less than a month.

He had been called for questioning in a money-laundering case linked to the alleged issuance of visas to some Chinese nationals in 2011, sources said.

The 52-year-old legislator from the Sivaganga Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu was questioned in this case on 23 December last year and 2 January.

The central agency recorded his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) provisions.

Karti went to the ED headquarters in Delhi for the third time on Friday morning. It is understood that his deposition was in connection with the Chinese visa-linked PMLA case this time as well.

Related: Karti Chidambaram appears before ED again

‘Routine affair’

The MP had called the summons in this case a “routine affair and things that happen routinely, especially when elections come near”.

“These are all exercises in futility. We will go through them,” he had told reporters while deposing earlier this month.

The money laundering case, filed under the provisions of the PMLA, stems from a CBI FIR.

The probe pertains to allegations of ₹50 lakh being paid as kickbacks to Karti and his close associate S Bhaskararaman by a top executive of the Vedanta group company Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (TSPL), which was setting up a power plant in Punjab, according to the CBI FIR.

Claims in CBI FIR

According to the CBI, the work for setting up the power project was being executed by a Chinese company and was running behind schedule.

A TSPL executive had sought re-issuance of project visas for 263 Chinese workers for which Rs 50 lakh allegedly exchanged hands, according to the CBI FIR.

The CBI had last year raided the premises of the Chidambaram family and arrested Bhaskararaman even as Karti was questioned by it.

Karti has earlier said that the ED probe was a “fishing and roving” enquiry and that he has submitted documents to the agency in the past. He had called the case “most bogus”, asserting he was “certain that he never facilitated even a single Chinese national in their visa process, let alone 250.”

He had said this case was an attempt to target his father senior Congress leader P Chidambaram through him.

This is the third money laundering case against Karti with the INX Media and Aircel-Maxis cases being probed by the ED for some years now.

Speaking to the media in Delhi following his appearance before the ED on 23 December, Karti Chidambaram said, “This is my 20th day in the ED. It is becoming a routine affair. They ask the same things, and I give the same answers. It is a dead case… dormant case and a closed case.”

He added, “The CBI has practically closed this matter but they want to reopen it and ask me something. My lawyers have already replied extensively and given them a 100-page reply. I’ll repeat the same. It is the season of Christmas, they missed me so they are calling me again. We are here to exchange Christmas greetings.”

Related: Karti Chidambaram calls ED probe ‘fishing and roving’ inquiry

‘Sent around 100-page reply’

Chidambaram, through his lawyer, earlier sent around a 100-page reply to the investigating officer, appending his election affidavit, Income Tax return, details of bank accounts, and immovable assets while he sought exemption from appearance on Saturday as well as time to furnish all the documents sought by the agency.

Asserting that he was willing to appear before the agency and cooperate in the investigation, Chidambaram’s lawyer said he had some contentions.

He told the ED that the latest summons do not disclose the allegations against the MP and whether he was called as an “accused or witness” in the case.

The MP said in the letter that the information and documents sought from him are nothing but “in the nature of a fishing and roving enquiry” and there was no reason to call for his and his family members’ personal financial matters in this probe.

‘Financial matters in public domain’

Karti Chidambaram told the ED that in the “spirit of cooperating with the investigation”, he has already submitted to the agency the documents and records sought in the past while information relating to his financial matters was available in the public domain through his election affidavit.

The MP cited that he submitted these documents as many as 19 times to the ED in the INX Media and Aircel-Maxis case between 2018 and 2019.

He claimed that the latest summons against him was issued “mechanically” but despite that, he will require time to submit the documents again as they are “extremely voluminous in nature” and are available at his Chennai office and residence but he was in Delhi “due to the ongoing winter session of Parliament”.

(With PTI inputs)