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Of kickbacks and duels: Chidambarams vs Swamy

Prince Dhanta | New Delhi |

If nobody, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy should feel victorious with the CBI raids at the houses and properties owned by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti in Tamil Nadu. It is Swamy who, for long, has been collecting “proofs” and sharing them with the media with regard to the hidden bank accounts and properties allegedly owned by the Chidambarams in India and abroad.

The early morning raids on Tuesday were conducted in connection with Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearances given to INX Media (now 9X Media) when it was run by Peter Mukherjee and his wife Indrani, and Chidambaram was then the Finance Minister. This happened a day after the CBI filed an FIR against Karti and others.

As per the income tax report, two media firms – INX Media and Network 18 — had in 2008 allegedly bribed Karti for getting FIPB approvals. At that time, INX Media was c-owned by Peter Mukherjee, and Network 18 that runs TV channels like CNN-IBN and news portals was controlled by Raghav Bahl, who now runs the Quint website.

According to the report of Income Tax’s Chennai Investigation Unit, released by Swamy, the said media organisations had money trail and shares allotments to Karti’s company Advantage Strategic Consulting and other firms linked to him.

Last month, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had issued a show-cause notice to Karti and his firm Advance Strategic Consulting Private Limited for alleged violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) laws to the tune of Rs. 45 crore.

On February 20 this year, Swamy had alleged that Karti and his companies had 21 secret foreign bank accounts. Releasing the details to the media, Swamy had also accused the Finance Ministry and Income Tax officials of inaction on the illegality.

“It is shocking that the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate having been provided details of 21 undeclared foreign bank accounts of Karti Chidambaram and of the companies that he controls, have failed to proceed against Karti to its logical end. Karti has also refused to obey three summons orders of the Enforcement Directorare,” he had said.

Swamy had said that this list was given to him by a whistleblower officer from Income Tax office in Chennai.

On March 15 this year, Swamy brought out the details of Chidambaram’s hidden property in Cambridge in UK reportedly found by Income Tax’s Investigation Wing. Revealing the details of a 200-page Income Tax analysis on the seized hard disks of Karti’s companies, Swamy detailed more than 20 instances of blatant corruption and illegal money flow and of properties purchased abroad.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Swamy had shared his seven page letter to the Prime Minister with the media, providing the major findings of Income Tax’s Chennai Unit.

Now, when the Chidambarams are alleging political vendetta, it is a matter of investigation to find out the truth. What next is up Swamy’s sleeve on the issue is what everybody’s is waiting for!