P Chidambaram appeared before ED for second time on Aircel-Maxis case

Vastavam web: Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram today appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for the second round of questioning in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case, officials said. The senior Congress leader arrived at the ED’s headquarter annexe office here shortly before 11 am, they said. He was summoned for today after he was first questioned on June 5 by the agency, a department that reported to him during his tenure in the Finance Ministry. Some specific queries on circumstances and procedures adopted by the now-defunct Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) while giving approval to the Aircel-Maxis deal during his tenure were reported to have been put to him last time, they said.

Chidambaram’s son Karti has already been questioned by the ED in this case, twice. After leaving the ED office on June 5, Chidambaram had tweeted that all answers he gave to the probe agency were already recorded in government documents. He also had said that there is no FIR, yet a probe had been initiated. The ED had first asked him to appear before it on May 30 and on the same day, Chidambaram knocked the court’s door.

The court, in its order on May 30, had noted that Chidambaram has undertaken to comply with summons issued by the ED, while saying he apprehended his arrest by the agency. The Aircel-Maxis cases pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel. The Supreme Court had on March 12 directed investigating agencies — the CBI and the ED to complete their probe into the 2G spectrum allocation cases, including the Aircel Maxis alleged money laundering case, in six months. The ED is investigating “the circumstances of the FIPB approval granted by the then finance minister”.

“In the instant case, the approval for FDI of USD 800 million (over Rs 3,500 crore) was sought. Hence, the CCEA was competent to grant the approval” However, the approval was not obtained from the CCEA,” the ED had alleged. The agency said its probe revealed that the case of the said FDI was “wrongly projected as an investment of Rs 180 crore so that it need not be sent to the CCEA to avoid a detailed scrutiny”. The senior Chidambaram had earlier described the ED action in this case as a “crazy mixture of falsehoods and conjectures” and said that the charge sheet filed by probe agencies was rejected by the court.However, the agencies maintained that the FIR in the case had not been quashed.