- CBI has alleged that P Chidambaram was not cooperating with the probe
- The former Union minister has been sent to CBI's custody till Monday
- He was arrested from his Delhi residence amid high drama Wednesday night
Former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday rejected the prosecution's claim that he was not cooperating with investigation agencies in an alleged money laundering case related to INX Media in 2007. "Please look at the questions and answers, there are no questions that I have not answered -- please read the transcript. They asked me if I have a bank account abroad, and I said no. They asked me if my son has an account abroad, and I said yes," he said in a Special CBI Court, hours after he was arrested from his residence in Delhi's Jor Bagh amid high drama on Wednesday night.
Mr Chidambaram was brought to court after being questioned for three hours at the CBI headquarters on Thursday morning. He also told the presiding judge that there was no need for custodial interrogation by the investigation agency because there have been no new developments in the case, and he was neither tampering with the evidence nor liable to become a flight risk.
The senior Congress leader's request for permission to speak in court was initially opposed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The judge, however, decided to allow it.
The CBI had sought five-day custody of the former Union Minister on the grounds that he has been evasive of their questions related to the INX Media case, where Mr Chidambaram's son -- Karti -- has been accused of getting bribes to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore in return for allowing a media group illegal access to foreign funds during the UPA rule in 2007. Mr Chidambaram, who was the Finance Minister at the time, has been accused of facilitating the move.
The defence counsel maintained that it's wrong to say that Mr Chidambaram was uncooperative just because he did not answer questions the way investigation agencies wanted him to.
However, the court eventually decided that sending him to CBI custody until August 26 was "justified", and allowed his family members and lawyers limited access for half an hour each day. "The allegations against Chidambaram are serious in nature, and an in-depth investigation is required," it said.
A First Information Report registered by the CBI on May 5, 2017, had alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance granted to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Mr Chidambaram's tenure as the Finance Minister. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) cited this to lodge a money-laundering case in 2018.
Sources have confirmed to NDTV that Indrani Mukerjea, the then INX Media head who is now in jail on charges of murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, told the ED that Mr Chidambaram had instructed them to help Karti in his business ventures in exchange for letting the foreign investments through. She also told the agency that the names of two firms -- 'Chess Management' and 'Advantage Strategic' -- were discussed as possible conduits for alleged payments made to his son, they added.
The Congress, however, has questioned the logic behind depending solely on the statement of a murder accused who may have turned approver simply to get much-needed relief in her own case. "This case is completely based on a case diary and a statement of another accused," party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.