New Delhi: One of the world's best-known venture capital firms, Sequoia Capital, is now part of a vast investigation into alleged money-laundering by Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
- Karti is son of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram
- World-famous Sequoia Capital bought shares from firm linked to him
- Shares worth 3 crores bought 2 years later by Sequoia for 22 crores
Documents reviewed by NDTV indicate that the Enforcement Directorate, which looks at financial crimes, has zoomed in to two transactions where Sequoia paid Rs 32.9 crores for shares that just two years before were worth only three crores. The windfall gain on the shares of Vasan Health Care - which runs clinics across Tamil Nadu - was made by a company in 2010 - that was indirectly owned by Karti Chidambaram.
Sequoia's India office in Bengaluru was raided earlier this month by the Enforcement Directorate, which also questioned its Managing Director VT Bharadwaj, who reportedly said that there was no valuation report done for Vasan Health Care to determine the real worth of its shares.
The Enforcement Directorate says the baffling price paid by Seqouia is incongruent with what its own auditors, Suresh and Company, estimated. They said the value of a Vasan share was Rs 110, but just over a week later, the venture capital firm picked up those same shares for a massive premium.
With the huge profits it made, the company indirectly owned by Karti Chidambaram, Advantage Strategic Consulting Services, then sent its Singapore branch on a global shopping spree, claims the Enforcement Directorate.
The agency has sent letters to Singapore authorities for details of the company, and to 12 countries in which Advantage Singapore has dealings, including France, UK, and South Africa.
Karti has argued that he has nothing more to do with Advantage, whose ownership he exited in 2012. But investigators say that as part of their searches, they have found four wills belonging to the current owners of Advantage. Those documents - viewed by NDTV - show that each of the owners have bequeathed their shares in Advantage to Karti Chidambaram's daughter, Aditi Nalini Chidambaram. Hardly a dotted line, say Mr Chidambaram's political opponents and investigators, arguing that it's clear that the Advantage owners are proxies for the Chidambaram family. Karti Chidambaram is the executor for all four wills.
Sources in Advantage told NDTV that Seqouia is India's largest venture capital fund, and would not have valued Vasan shares without due diligence.
They also said that the controversial wills have been made by people who have been "close friends of Karti Chidambaram for decades", and that contents of private wills are not subject to "speculation, debate or discussion".