ED probe extends to PC’s will for his granddaughter

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it has begun a probe into former Union Minister P. Chidambaram’s wills made in favour of his granddaughter, after the Delhi High Court dismissed the former Finance Minister’s bail on November 15.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a three-judge bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi that after the high court twice examined the judicial custody of Chidambaram, he wanted the court to deny him bail after studying all the facts brought before it.

“Moreover, the respondent (ED) has examined the petitioner-accused at least twice during the judicial custody, after the order of Delhi High Court.

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“The petitioner was confronted with the rest of the evidence of illegal gratification in INX Media case, the wills made in favour of his granddaughter by the directors of ASCPL and the statements of the persons concerned in the case,” said the ED in its affidavit opposing Chidambaram bail.

During the course of the search and scrutiny of the digital data, it was revealed that directors and share-holders of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd (a “benami” company of the petitioner and his son), India (which is holding company of Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Pte. Ltd., Singapore) later on in the year 2013 transferred their entire share holding of M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd. to the granddaughter of petitioner by way of a will.

“During the course of investigation when one of the co-conspirators was asked to produce original copy of the will, he stated in his statement 23.02.2018 that original copy of the will was destroyed at the instance of the son of petitioner (Karti P. Chidambaram, another conspirator)”, said the ED affidavit.

Mehta also told the apex court the investigating agency is also probing the complex web of shell companies, used for money laundering, all located outside the country, and 12 accounts and 12 properties in 16 foreign countries.

“The investigation in the present case is at a very crucial stage. Revealing the names of witnesses at this stage may hamper the investigation,” said ED in the affidavit.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in the INX Media case on August 21. The CBI had registered an FIR on May 15, 2017, alleging corruption in approvals granted by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to the INX Media group for overseas fund of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during his tenure as Finance Minister.

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