New Delhi: Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, has refuted newspaper reports linking him to a chain of multi-crore overseas investments.
On Tuesday, Parliament was forced to adjourn repeatedly after an article in the Pioneer, which claimed that the Enforcement Directorate, in raids on companies associated with Karti had found evidence of a slew of investments around the world.
These, according to the report, included 88 acres in a farm in Somerset, UK, a majority share in a Sri Lanka hotel company that owns three resorts, farms and vineyards in South Africa, and joint ventures to acquire franchises for a tennis league in South East Asia. The investments were said to be made by Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd, a Singapore-based subsidiary of an Indian company of the same name.
Karti, however told NDTV that he is "not a shareholder or a director of Advantage. Advantage is owned by my friends, who I know very well. It is a very fictional story which has come out in a newspaper, whose political persuasions are very well known."
But Karti was not just a shareholder - he was the owner of Advantage via another company, Ausbridge Holdings and Investments Pvt Ltd. Ausbridge, in which Karti owned over 90 per cent of shares, took over the ownership of Advantage in 2010 by purchasing a majority stake.
But he told us he was an "indirect shareholder for a brief 11 months or so. The company was incorporated by the people I know. I came into the company with a friend and left the company briefly."
Records, however, show that he sold his stake in Ausbridge two years later, in March 2012.
The AIADMK has alleged that these transactions are linked to payoffs from the Aircel-Maxis deal, specifically that as Finance Minister, P Chidambaram deliberately delayed the purchase of the telecom company Aircel by Maxis, in exchange for kickbacks.
In December last year, the Enforcement Directorate carried out raids on Advantage Consulting, which in the financial year 2005-06 had entered into financial transactions with Aircel.
Karti, however said that Advantage "had done a one-off consultancy with Aircel, which they did for a fee of some Rs 25 lakhs, that's all. They never held shares in Aircel. These are all yarns that are being spun over again and again."