Chinese visa scam: ED registers money laundering case against Karti Chidambaram, others

The federal agency has filed its case under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) taking cognisance of a recent first information report by the CBI in the same case, they said.

Somendra SharmaUpdated: Wednesday, May 25, 2022, 09:23 PM IST
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Karti Chidambaram | Photo: PTI

After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had booked Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram in connection with a case of alleged corruption in providing visas to Chinese officials of a company, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has now booked him in a case of money laundering based on CBI's FIR, officials informed on Wednesday. The ED will probe the possible "proceeds of crime" that could have been generated due to the alleged illegal activity, officials said. Karti is likely to appear before the CBI on Thursday to join the probe in the alleged visa scam case.

CBI on March 17 had filed a criminal case against Karti and others for allegedly facilitating visas of 263 Chinese nationals after receiving illegal gratification of Rs 50 lakh. The CBI had later arrested Karti's close associate S Bhaskararaman, a Chartered Accountant, for his alleged involvement in the case. The CBI had booked Karti, Bhaskararaman, Vikas Makharia, representing Mansa (Punjab) based private company, M/s Talwandi Sabo Power Limited, Mansa, M/s Bell Tools Limited, Mumbai and unknown public servants.

On Tuesday evening, Karti had tweeted his statement. "Previously, the agencies have gone after me based on the statement of an undertrial murder suspect. Now, they are basing their bogus charges on the alleged actions of a deceased person whom I have never met. I firmly state that I am not associated with this visa issue directly or indirectly. The allegations against me by the CBI are ludicrous, I categorically deny all of them. I have no relationship whatsoever with any of the corporate entities mentioned in the FIR in which I have been named as an accused. I have never facilitated even a single Chinese national in their visa process, let alone 250."

According to the CBI, M/s Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL) was in the process of establishing a 1980 MW thermal power plant at Mansa and the plant was being installed by a Chinese Company. During 2011, M/s TSPL was in need of more Project VISAs over and above the maximum permissible number of Project VISAs for Chinese experts from the Chinese Company, as the company was running behind its schedule in the installation of Power Plant translating into huge financial repercussions in terms of penalty, interest on bank loans etc.

"It has been further alleged that the project was running behind its schedule. In order to avoid penal actions for the delay, the said private company of Mansa was trying to bring more and more Chinese persons/professionals for their site at District Mansa (Punjab) and needed Project VISAs over & above the ceiling imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It has also been alleged that for the said purpose, the Makharia had approached Karti through Bhaskararaman and thereafter 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 re-use 263 Project VISAs allotted to the said Chinese company’s officials," the CBI had alleged.

"It has been alleged that in pursuance of the same, Makharia submitted a letter to MHA seeking approval to re-use the Project VISAs allotted to this company, which was approved within a month and permission was issued to the company. A bribe of Rs 50 lakh was allegedly demanded by Karti through Bhaskararaman, which was paid by the TSPL. It has been further alleged that the payment of said bribe was routed from Mansa based private company to Karti and Bhaskararaman through a Mumbai based company as payment of false invoice raised for Consultancy and out of pocket expenses for Chinese VISAs related works whereas the private company based at Mumbai was never in any kind of work relating to VISAs rather it was in an entirely different business of industrial knives," the agency had alleged.

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