Free Press Journal

Only tip of iceberg in CBI’s INX probe


New Delhi : A case registered by the CBI in Delhi on Monday against senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s son Karti and others in the illegal approval of foreign funding to the Mumbai-based INX Media (Private) Limited is only a tip of the iceberg.

The FIR actually registered against two Mumbai firms, other being a sister company of INX Media, puts the illegal foreign investment at only Rs 305 crore, while it is actually Rs 1100 crores as reflected in the 2008 report of the PricewaterHouse Coopers (PWC).

The PWC report says INX Media was the biggest recipient of FDI in 2007 and the money came from Temasek Holdings via Dunearn Investment (Mauritius), New Silk Routes (Mauritius), Kotak and SREI Group. The FIR identifies the third company as New Vernon Pvt Equity Limited.

The money trail linking Karti that the CBI is using to embarrass P Chidambaram was detected way back in February 2008 by the Mumbai unit of the Income Tax Department on noticing foreign money inflow and outflow from the INX group.

Instead of acknowledging the Income Tax Department that would have nipped the fraud in 2008 itself but for the finance ministry officials persuading it to drop the investigation, the CBI claims it registered the FIR on the basis of “a reliable information received” regarding INX Media incorporated in Mumbai on August 8, 2006.

The Income Tax Department had then sought clarifications from the FIPB that started a parallel investigation and served notices on the group on 26/5/2008.

The FIR says it was at this stage that INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti to resolve the matter by influencing the officials of the FIPB so as to help it wriggle out of the punitive action.

The FIPB had approved investment of just Rs 4.62 crore in the company of Indrani Mukerjea by three non-resident investors (NRIs) on May 18, 2007, while rejecting another application for downstream investment in its its sister company INX News (P) Limited of her husband Peter Mukerjea.