Aircel-Maxis case: Company under probe paid for Karti Chidambaram watches, paintings, ED to Delhi court


The Enforcement Directorate informed a Delhi court Wednesday that several items, including expensive paintings and luxury watches, recovered from the Chennai house of Karti Chidambaram had been paid for by Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Ltd (ASCPL), a company with which he had denied any link, and was under probe for alleged irregularities in the Aircel-Maxis deal.
The ED, which filed a prosecution complaint under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Ruby Alka Gupta, claimed that the ASCPL received Rs 26 lakh as consultancy fee, days after the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) granted approval for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when Karti’s father P Chidambaram was Union Finance Minister.
Other than Karti, the ED complaint also named ASCPL, its directors Padma Bhaskararaman and Ravi Viswanathan, Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd and its director Annamalai Palaniappa. The court posted the matter to July 4.
Later, P Chidambaram, in a tweet, said: “The complaint filed by ED against Karti Chidambaram and others is seriously flawed. Since the matter is in Court, I shall not make a public comment. The complaint will be vigorously contested before the Special Court.”
In its complaint, the ED cited what it called dealings between Vasan Health Care Pvt Ltd (VHCPL) and blue chip venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. The agency claimed that Sequoia Capital picked up stake in VHCPL at a premium of Rs 7,500 per share (against the then price of around Rs 200 per share) through purchase of VHCPL shares from ASCPL. It alleged that Karti played a significant role in this deal.
The ED also attached four “wills” which it claimed had been prepared for eventual transfer of ownership of ASCPL to Karti’s family. These wills, it claimed, had been recovered from the computer of Karti’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman. According to the ED, the wills had four current directors of ASCPL bequeathing their shares in the company to Karti’s daughter after their death.
In its complaint, the ED claimed that Chess Management Services Pvt Limited, another company which it alleged was promoted by Karti, received a sum of USD 202,446 between 2007 and 2011 against invoices raised during 2007-2009 from Maxis and its associate Malaysian companies for software services.
“The software sold for Rs 90 lakh was designed to be used for compliance with Indian laws and was not of any use for a Malaysian company,” the ED complaint stated.