Congressional MP Karti Chidambaram is likely to appear before the CBI on Wednesday to join the investigation into an alleged scam involving the issuance of visas to 263 Chinese citizens in 2011, when his father P Chidambaram was the interior minister. was, officials said.
Karti Chidambaram, who has traveled to the UK and Europe with the approval of the Supreme Court and a special CBI court, will return on Tuesday.
According to the order of the special CBI court, he must join the CBI investigation within 16 hours of his return.
The case concerns allegations that Rs 50 lakh was paid as a bribe to the congressman and his close associate S Bhaskararaman by a top executive of the Vedanta group company Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd. (TSPL), which was setting up a power plant in Punjab, the CBI FIR said.
According to the CBI, the work to set up the energy project was carried out by a Chinese company and was behind schedule.
A TSPL manager had requested the re-issuance of a project visa for 263 Chinese workers for which Rs 50 lakh reportedly exchanged hands, according to the CBI FIR.
Karti Chidambaram has denied all charges, saying, “If this isn’t harassment, not a witch hunt, then what is.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, he said: “I’m going back home today, as planned when I left two weeks ago for a work/family visit to the UK and Europe. I’m not intimidated that the central government is again using agencies to charge me with a malicious and completely fabricated charge.
“Previously, the agencies have chased me based on the statement of a murder suspect. Now they base their false accusations on the alleged actions of a deceased person, whom I have never met. I intend to continue fighting everyone of their motivated attempts to attack my father through me,” he added.
The MP said: “For what it’s worth, however, I certify that I am not directly, indirectly, vicariously or even telepathically involved in this visa issue! The charges against me by the CBI are ludicrous to say the least. I deny them all. “
The agency alleged that Mr Bhaskararaman was approached by Vikas Makharia, the then associate vice president of TSPL, for the reissuance of project visas for 263 Chinese workers working at the Mansa-based power plant.
The CBI FIR, which includes the findings of the investigating officer investigating the PE, has claimed that Makharia approached him through his “close associate/frontman” Bhaskararaman, the officials said.
“They devised a way to circumvent the ceiling’s goal (maximum number of project visas allowed for the company’s factory) by allowing the reuse of 263 project visas assigned to the officials of the said Chinese company “, it was claimed.
Project visas were a special type of visa introduced in 2010 for the energy and steel sector for which detailed guidelines were issued during P Chidambaram’s tenure as Home Secretary, but there was no provision for re-issuing project visas, the FIR claimed.
According to the guidelines in force, derogation in rare and exceptional cases can only be considered and allowed with the approval of the Minister of the Interior. Given the above circumstances, the derogation in terms of project visa reuse is likely to be approved by the then Home Secretary…” it further claimed.
The CBI in its May 14 FIR named Karti Chidambaram, Mr Bhaskararaman, Mr Makharia, Talwandi Sabo Power Limited (TSPL) and Mumbai-based Bell Tools Limited as accused, through whom bribes are allegedly routed.
The case was registered under IPC sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of accounts) and sections 8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, they said.
Mr Makharia reportedly submitted a letter to the Interior Ministry on July 30, 2011, requesting approval to reuse the project visas assigned to his company, which were approved and granted within a month, officials said. .
He alleged that the bribe payment from TSPL was sent to Karti Chidambaram and Mr Bhaskararaman through Bell Tools Ltd in Mumbai, disguising payments under two invoices issued for consultancy and out-of-pocket expenses for work related to visas for the Chinese workers .
Mr Makharia later thanked Congress MP and Bhaskararaman by email, it added.
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