BJP with AIADMK demanded for action against P Chidambaram’s son Karti for his alleged role in the Aircel-Maxis deal
One may call it a master-stroke. The AIADMK, in a subtle move, has hit two birds with one-stone. With the strategic move, AIADMK sources said, the party wants to corner Congress particularly P Chidambaram, who according to them is bête noir to party supremo Jayalalithaa, and to queer the pitch of DMK-Congress alliance before the Assembly polls. “That is why our madam did not say anything all these months, though serious criticism and serious charges were leveled against the party and its leader by the Opposition especially by DMK and Congress.”
On March 1, after the budget presentation, the AIADMK members demanded action against former Union Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti over the Aircel-Maxis issue. They stormed to the well of the House waving copies of a newspaper alleged that Karti had built a “business empire for himself in different parts of the world and that that had come to light through documents recovered during the raids conducted by Enforcement Directorate (ED) and probe wing of Income-Tax in a scam case.
In the famous Aircel-Maxis case, last year ED had questioned former Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran after the agency had probed all the financial transactions of their Sun Network group companies. The then leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha in May 2012, Arun Jaitley had also accused P Chidambaram that a firm (Advantage Strategic Consulting) owned by his family member had allegedly made payments to Aircel.
It pertains to an issue related to 2006 when the matter of change of ownership of Aircel was pending with then Finance minister P Chidambaram. As FM, Chidambaram had approved the Maxis investment in Aircel on March 7, 2006. The ED is investigating transactions of Advantage Consulting, which had allegedly extended Rs 26 lakh to Aircel and is believed to have benefitted out of the Aircel-Maxis deal. Chidambaram has been repeatedly denying any connection of his son with this deal.
On December 1, 2015 ED and IT (Investigation Wing) conducted raids at Karti’s firm and seized indiscriminating documents. Based on these, it probed to find his assets buying spree between 2006-2011. It is reliably learnt that the ED and IT are expected to contact their international counterparts to get more details from the 14 countries as per the United Nation’s Convention on prevention of money laundering. The 2G Special Court has already issued Letter Rogatory to Singapore for getting transaction details of the Karti’s company in Singapore.
According to the sources, Karti’s Singapore-based firm had acquired majority shares of a big resort in Sri Lanka, known as Lanka Fortune Residencies. Based on the documents seized during the raid, the tax sleuths unearthed the acquisition agreement papers between Karti’s Singapore company and share holders of the Sri Lankan firm. Documents of money trail of investments made in Sri Lanka with a Lanka-based financial firm, Union Development & Investment Company Private Limited, were also seized in the December raids.
It is believed that Karti’s Singapore firm routed money via Dubai to acquire three farms and vineyards in South Africa, identified as Rowey Farm in Grabouw, Cape Orchards and Vineyards Private Limited, and Zandvliet Enterprises, a wine and stud farm in Ashton. The Karti-controlled Singapore firm also had money transactions with Nicholls Steyn and Associates in South Africa.
It came to light that the Dubai-based Desert Dunes Properties Ltd has also invested in Karti’s Singapore-based company. The sleuths have unearthed a money trail of 1.7 million Singapore Dollars between these firms.
Sources said, “The Advantage’s Singapore subsidiary had entered into joint ventures with the Philippines-based companies to obtain a franchise team of International Premier Tennis League (Asia). Karti-controlled company has entered into joint venture with Philippine companies. They are SM Arena Complex Corporation, Sports Entertainment Events Management Inc. The Advantage had also had financial transactions with another real estate company in Singapore known as Real Beyond Pte Ltd having three subsidiaries in Malaysia. It is alleged that these transactions led to 16 land purchases in Thailand.”
The startling revelations that have been surfaced by ED probe are that the Advantage’s Singapore unit has set up a firm in British Virgin Island (BVI), namely Somerset Surridge Ltd. It invested 400,000 Singapore dollars in another BVI firm known as Full Innovations Ltd. It also has financial dealing with Geben Trading Limited in BVI and offices in Switzerland. The Singapore based Karti’s company has also entered into joint ventures with Gravitas Investments, Match Point International Tennis Events to buy a franchise Tennis team called ‘Manila Mavericks’. The ED sources said this deal was worth of 12 million US dollars. Karti’s Singapore firm acquired a residential flat in Malaysia worth 1.9 million Malaysian Ringgits. The probe agencies have found several transactions to Karti’s Singapore firm with Malaysian companies. The raids have seized some payment details amounting to more than Rs 30 crore in foreign currencies.
The Advantage in Singapore also opened a subsidiary firm in Barcelona in Spain known as Advantage Estrategia Esportiva SLU in August 2012. Karti-linked Singapore firm has also one million US dollar investments in a company in France.
“Karti’s Singapore Company has also transferred 50,000 dollars to a Bank of America account in the name of “Chennai Reserve – Business Advantage Checking” and the beneficiary of this transaction was one company called Kitchen Inc, a Delaware Corporation company in New York engaged in issuance of Convertible Promissory Notes.” Sources said.
The Chennai-based Advantage also has transactions with many other companies like Aircel Televenutres, DCB Client, Diageo Scotland Limited,
Katra Group, Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Unifi Wealth Management Ltd, etc.
“All these massive investments, transactions, acquisition of companies and properties abroad were executed by the Advantage after the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006. The country’s apex court has been appraised of this, which is monitoring the Aircel-Maxis scam. Both CBI and the ED had alleged in their chargesheets that FIPB clearance given by then Finance Minister Chidambaram to Maxis to acquire Aircel was totally illegal.
Last week two former Home Ministry officials came out openly with statements accusing Chidambaram of tampering with FIRs in Ishrat encounter case. Though Karti Chidambaram himself has denied the allegations, this case along with contradictory affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan Case has put the former Home Minister in the doubly dock.