Karti Chidambaram appears before ED in money laundering case

Karti earlier said that the ED probe was a "fishing and roving" enquiry and that he had earlier submitted documents to the agency.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 23, 2023 | 1:04 PMUpdatedDec 23, 2023 | 2:11 PM


Congress MP Karti Chidambaram appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi on Saturday, 23 December, in a money laundering case linked to the issuance of visa to some Chinese nationals in 2011, official sources said.

The ED case pertains to the 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 FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The ED case stems from the CBI complaint.

The agency will record the statement of the 52-year-old MP from the Sivaganga Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) provisions.

Chidambaram earlier said that the ED probe was a “fishing and roving” inquiry and that he had earlier submitted documents to the agency. He sought more time to collect documents as he skipped his appearance on 12- 16 December.

‘A dead dormant case’

Speaking to media in Delhi, 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 the case ‘most bogus’

‘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 available in the public domain’

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”.

Chidambaram, earlier, told PTI that the case was “most bogus” and his legal team will take it forward.

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

CBI charges

As per the CBI charges, 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 ₹50 lakh allegedly exchanged hands, according to the CBI FIR.

The agency has alleged that Bhaskararaman was approached by Vikas Makharia, the then associate vice president of TSPL, for the reissue of project visas for the Chinese workers working at the Mansa-based power plant.

The CBI FIR alleged that Makharia approached Karti through his “close associate/front man” Bhaskararaman, the officials said.

“They devised a back-door way to defeat the purpose of ceiling (maximum of project visas permissible to the company’s plant) by granting permission to reuse 263 project visas allotted to the said Chinese company’s officials,” it was alleged.


The CBI had last year raided the premises of the Chidambaram family and arrested Bhaskararaman. It also questioned Chidambaram.

Project visas were a special facility that was introduced in 2010 for the power and steel sector for which detailed guidelines were issued during P Chidambaram’s tenure as the home minister but there was no provision of re-issue of project visas, the FIR alleged.

“As per prevalent guidelines, deviation in rare and exceptional cases could be considered and granted only with the approval of the home secretary. However, in view of the above circumstances, the deviation in terms of reuse of project visas is likely to be approved by the then Home Minister…,” it further alleged.

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

(With PTI inputs)