PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY SHRI P. CHIDAMBARAM ON FIPB APPROVALS
Two weeks have passed since a false and baseless charge was levelled against my son, Karti Chidambaram, and some of his friends. I had issued a brief statement on May 16, 2017. Not only did I observe restraint thereafter, but I also advised everyone concerned to observe restraint.
However, in the last two weeks, leaks and insinuations have been deliberately fed to a section of the media and maliciously circulated in the social media. In fact, I have obtained a copy of the FIR from the social media. The origin of these leaks is Çhennai in my home state of Tamil Nadu.
The subject matter of the FIR is an approval granted by the FIPB. It is clear that I am the target, yet the FIR does not name me. The FIR alleges that there was a conspiracy involving public officials who were induced by corrupt and illegal means to grant the approval, yet the FIR does not name a single public official. The most ridiculous allegation is that the so-called gratification was a cheque for Rs 10 lakhs -- I repeat, a cheque for Rs 10 lakhs. (The cheque was in favour of a consulting company that had raised an invoice for work done, accounted for the income, and paid income tax on the amount.)
The FIPB was serviced by a secretariat. The FIPB was chaired by the Secretary, Economic Affairs and included four other secretaries (industry, commerce, external affairs and overseas Indian affairs) and the secretary of the administrative ministry. Five of them were among the senior most IAS officers and the sixth was a senior IFS officer of the Ministry of External Affairs. Each one of them had a long and distinguished record of service. The recommendations of the FIPB were submitted to the Ministry of Finance where they were once again examined by the junior officers and then by the Additional Secretary and the Secretary before the file was put up to the Minister. Each file put up to the Minister would usually contain a number of cases and the recommendations of the FIPB and the Secretary, Economic Affairs.
At the relevant time, the FIPB was chaired by Dr D Subba Rao, IAS who later became the Governor of RBI. He was succeeded by Mr Ashok Chawla, IAS who later became Chairman of the Competition Commission of India. The other Secretaries were equally distinguished civil servants.
Any one familiar with the working of the FIPB knows that no single officer can take a decision on any proposal. It is a collective decision of six Secretaries. Anyone who has worked with me knows that no one would dare to influence my decisions. I had never allowed any family member to speak to me or to any officer of my ministry on any official matter. It is therefore preposterous to suggest that a member of my family, with or without my knowledge, influenced, by corrupt or illegal means, the six Secretaries who constituted the FIPB. Such an allegation is a despicable slur on the six Secretaries of the government who constituted the FIPB at the relevant time.
As far as FIPB cases were concerned, I approved only those cases that were recommended by the FIPB and put up to me by Secretary, Economic Affairs.
I can say with absolute certainty that Karti Chidambaram had never met any officer connected with the FIPB. Besides, he had no connection with the applicant company (INX Media/INX News).
Further, Karti Chidambaram was never a director or shareholder of M/s Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd. The promoters/directors of ASCPL have, on more than one occasion, made it clear that ASCPL is their company and they alone are responsible for the business of that company. They are business friends of Karti Chidambaram and have normal relations that are common among business friends.
I feel sad that my son and his business friends are being targeted. I am indignant that some of the most distinguished civil servants of the country have been humiliated by the FIR. In the instant case, it is not one Secretary but six Secretaries (and the FIPB secretariat) who are being humiliated on a ridiculous charge of being induced by an alleged gratification of Rs 10 lakhs.
I make this statement so that the misinformation emanating from Chennai is exposed. Ultimately, the course of law will expose the mischief makers. I have advised my son to fully co-operate with the investigation and he will do so.