Friday, June 18, 2021

India: ED arrests senior congress leader Chidambaram in INX Media money laundering case


The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested senior Congress leader P Chidambaram in the INX Media case.

After Chidambaram’s arrest on Wednesday morning, the probe agency said it will approach the court to seek custody of the former Union minister.

The arrest comes a day after a local court allowed the central agency to interrogate the senior Congress leader in the case.

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A team of ED officials on Wednesday morning reached the Tihar Jail to question former Union finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case. The Congress leader has spent about 55 days in CBI and judicial custody till now after he was arrested on August 21 in this case.

The ED has filed a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to probe alleged irregularities in the grant of FIPB approval to the INX Media group.

What led to Chidambaram’s arrest

After spending 55 days in CBI and judicial custody in the INX Media corruption case, P Chidambaram faced the prospect of arrest by the ED after a city court on Monday allowed his interrogation in Tihar jail in the money laundering case.

The order by Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar had come two days before the judicial custody of the 74-year-old Congress veteran was set to expire in the corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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Judge Kuhar had allowed the ED to interrogate Chidambaram in Tihar jail on Wednesday, and arrest him, if necessary, in connection with the INX Media money laundering case.

The judge said three ED officials can interrogate Chidambaram after 8:30 am and asked the jail superintendent to make necessary arrangements.

The judge, who allowed the plea of the ED seeking permission to quiz Chidambaram, had also rejected the Congress leader’s plea seeking to recall the production warrant issued against him.

Chidambaram on Tuesday had also sought bail from the Supreme Court in the corruption case, saying the CBI wants to keep him in custody to humiliate him. The court will hear on Wednesday the arguments of Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI.

Judge Kuhar said the ED had moved the application seeking production warrant of the accused as he was in custody in the case being investigated by the CBI for the predicate offence.

“The DoE (Directorate of Enforcement) cannot interrogate accused without the permission of the court, he being in custody of this court. The application therefore sought for his production in the court for the purpose of arrest and remand.

“Therefore, in these circumstances, the DoE can seek permission to interrogate the accused and then if the grounds specified in section 19 of the PMLA Act are made out, arrest the accused. Accordingly, the application for arrest of accused is being treated as an application for interrogation of accused is allowed accordingly,” the court said.

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Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 empowers the investigating agency/ED to arrest any person who is guilty of money laundering under the Act.

The court said the ED’s application for remand is premature at this stage and it would be considered only if Chidambaram is arrested in the case by the agency. It also dismissed the plea of Chidambaram for cancellation or recall of production warrant against him on October 10.

The Supreme Court on September 5 refused to grant Chidambaram pre-arrest bail in the money laundering case lodged by the ED, saying his custodial interrogation was necessary and that grant of anticipatory bail at this stage will hamper investigation. The court will hear on Wednesday the arguments of Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI.

As for the money laundering case, ED’s special public prosecutor’s N K Matta and Nitesh Rana had on Friday moved a plea seeking production warrant of the senior Congress leader.


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