Aircel-Maxis deal: Karti Chidambaram gives ED investigation a miss

Karti informed the agency that he will be unable to come and sought more time from the agency, said a senior ED officer.

Published: 05th July 2016 11:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2016 11:26 PM   |  A+A-

Karti_Chidambaram_PTI

Union Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram (File Photo/PTI)

NEW DELHI: Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P Chidamabram, failed to appear before Enforcement Directorate to join investigation on Tuesday in connection with money laundering investigation in the Aircel-Maxis deal of the 2G scam. The agency had issued summon to Karti to join investigation on Tuesday.

“Karti informed the agency that he will be unable to come on Tuesday as he has other engagement and sought more time from the agency,” said a senior ED officer.

Following which the agency has granted him fresh time to submit documents within the first fortnight of this month. “We are issuing a fresh a notice to Karti to present himself in person and submit personal financial documents and those related to a firm by July 15,” said the officer.

The agency is probing alleged violations of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) between Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited and Chess Global Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, where Karti had been a director.

“We have collected incrementing documents and evidences as the entire deal between the companies are “fishy”,” ED officer told the Express.

The agency has sent Letters Rogatory to Singapore, Malaysia and few other countries to obtain more details into money laundering probe.  The agency officer said that the money laundering by the said companies in spread across countries like UAE, South Africa, US, Greece, Spain, Switzerland, France, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and British Virgin Islands.

The agency has got some query from Singapore counterparts related to Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited of which the agency has replied and sought final report.  The agency has also sent reminder to Malaysian counterpart.

The Aircel-Maxis deal is being probed by both ED and CBI and the case is a part of the overall probe in the 2G scam case.

The agency officer said that Advantage Strategic Consulting was owned by Ravi Viswanathan and Padma Viswanathan and on September 15, 2008 CBN Reddy acquired stake in Advantage Strategic, the agency sources said.

In 2005 Malaysian company Maxis wanted to buy 74 percent stake for Rs 4,000 crore in telecom company Aircel owned by Chennai businessman C Sivasankaran, which was on the verge of bankruptcy.

During probe, ED has found that Ausbridge Holding and Investments Pvt Ltd -- a company in which Karti Chidambaram is a 94 per cent equity holder -- bought shares in Aircel’s holding company -- Advantage Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd, just before clearance was from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board  to the Aircel-Maxis deal.

“We are also probing that shares of Advantage Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd were bought at less than book value, allowing Ausbridge Holding and Investments Pvt Ltd to make a huge profit,” the officer said. He also noted that Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited also bought shares in Vasan Eye Care through a middleman.

The officer further stated that there were also financial transactions between Chess Global Advisory Services Pvt Ltd and Advantage Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd, where Karti had been a director.

Last year the agency, along with the I-T department, had conducted search and seizure operations on the business premises of Chess Global firm in Chennai in the presence of Karti last December.

In August, the ED had summoned two directors of Advantage Strategic Consulting in the Aircel-Maxis case. The directors – CBN Reddy and Ravi Vishwanath – of Advantage Strategic Consulting company were summoned to join the probe into the allegations of financial transaction between the company and Aircel.

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