Indrani Mukerjea's bribe allegation triggered Karti arrest, linked ex-Finmin father

Indrani said she and Peter Mukerjea had acceded to Karti's demand of USD 1 mn for fixing violations done in FIPB clearance.

New Delhi: Karti Chidambaram, arrested in connection with the INX Media case, was on Wednesday sent to one-day CBI custody by a Delhi court after the agency claimed his custodial interrogation was needed to unearth the conspiracy over alleged payment of dollar 1 million bribe to him by the media company through foreign entities.

In a statement to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Indrani Mukerjea -- former Director of INX Media (P) Ltd -- has said that she and her husband Peter Mukerjea had met former Union Minister P Chidambaram to seek government approval to foreign investment proposals worth around Rs 300 crore in the company INX Media.

This statement was recorded under section 164 of CrPC before a magistrate on February 17.

Karti is accused of receiving kickbacks in 2007 to clear the foreign investment, using the influence of his father, the then Union Finance Minister. Peter and Indrani Mukerjea owned INX Media at that time. The couple are in jail since 2015, accused of murdering Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora.

NDTV reports that the Mukerjea couple has in their statement to the ED detailed their interactions aith the former minister and his son. The report says Indrani “confirmed payment of 7,00,000 dollars” in her statement recorded before the magistrate.

The website reports the couple met P Chidambaram in his office in the North Block. They allege they were asked to “make foreign remittances” to help Kartis business.

NDTV reports the Mukerjeas then met Karti at Delhi’s Hyatt Hotel, who then allegedly demanded one million dollars.

A document accessed by the site read: "It was further admitted that Karti Chidambaram suggested the names of Chess Management and Advantage Strategic as alternatives to make payments."

Karti Chidambaram, 46, was arrested from Chennai airport on Wednesday morning soon after he returned from the United Kingdom, was brought to Delhi and produced before a duty magistrate.

The CBI sought his custodial interrogation for 15 days claiming he was not cooperating but got a day’s custody only. Karti is to be produced before the concerned special judge on Thursday at 2:30 pm.

During the proceedings on Wednesday, CBI prosecutor VK Sharma told the court that “Indrani’s statement under section 164 CrPC was recorded before a magistrate on February 17 in which she told the magistrate that in a meeting at a five-star hotel here, she and Peter met Karti and he demanded USD 1 million.”

Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for Karti, said it was a “bizzare” case and no grounds for arrest were made out.

“It is a bizzare case at the threshold. It is not a case of arrest, leave aside police custody or judicial custody,” he told the court while opposing the CBI’s remand.

The CBI had filed a case against Karti Chidambaram in 2017, in which he has been accused of accepting bribes to the tune of Rs 10 lakh.

In the court on Wednesday, Karti Chidambaram's lawyer, Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said he was being targeted because he was the son of a senior Congress leader.

Regarding the bribe allegation, Singhvi said Karti Chidambaram was not a director or a shareholder of Advantage Strategic company, one of the companies through which the Mukerjeas had allegedly paid the bribe.

Both Chidambaram and Karti have denied the allegations, calling it a case of "political vendetta". They pointed out that Chidambaram, who as Finance Minister in 2013, was the first to order a probe by the Serious Frauds Office into allegations against the INX Group.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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