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Former finance minister P Chidambaran today said the CBI should be questioning him instead of harassing his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case and accused the probe agency of spreading misinformation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had called Karti for questioning yesterday in connection with the foreign investment clearance given in the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when Chidambaram was the finance minister.
Karti refused to appear, saying a special court had discharged all the accused and terminated proceedings in the matter, a claim strongly contradicted by the CBI which maintains that the investigation was still on.
"In Aircel-Maxis, FIPB recommended and I approved minutes. CBI should question me and not harass Karti Chidambaram.
The CBI reiterated that the probe into the alleged quid pro quo in giving FIPB clearance for the investment in Aircel by Maxis was still going on.
"It is reiterated that the summons to Karti Chidambaram related to the allegations that the money was paid by Aircel Maxis to the two companies controlled by Karti Chidambaram as a quid pro quo for FIPB approval," the CBI said in a statement.
Karti's lawyer also issued a statement that it was incorrect to say that his client had refused to appear before the CBI for questioning.
He said Karti had appeared before the CBI on November 19, 2014 in which he had answered all the questions. He also said special judge had discharged accused in the case and terminated the proceedings.
"Hence, in answer to the fresh summons to appear, by a reply sent by me as a counsel, a legal objection has been raised that the CBI will not have the jurisdiction to issue a fresh summons. I have requested the CBI to first decide on the question of jurisdiction and meanwhile not to insist on the appearance of Karti P Chidambaram," lawyer Arun Natarajan said in a statement.
According to a CBI charge sheet submitted in a special court, Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for an investment of USD 800 million in Aircel. (Approx Rs 5,127 crore, according to present conversion rates).
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was competent to grant the approval.
"However, the approval was granted by the then finance minister. Further investigation is being carried out into the circumstances of the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval granted by the then finance minister. The related issues are also being investigated," the CBI had said in 2014.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had claimed the former finance minister had given FIPB clearance to a deal that should have been referred to the CCEA, headed by the prime minister, as it alone was empowered to clear foreign investments of over Rs 600 crore.
P Chidambaram, who was examined by the agency in connection with the case in 2014, had issued a statement this year, saying the FIPB approval was granted in the "normal course of business".