‘Prevention, prevention, prevention’: ED to Chidambaram’s ‘humiliation’ charge

Former finance minister P Chidambaram was laundering money even on the day a complaint was registered against him, probe agency Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in Supreme Court on Wednesday during a hearing in the INX Media case, in which the Congress leader is an accused and currently being held in CBI custody.

“On the day of the registration of a complaint against P Chidambatam, money laundering was going on by him,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said in court. We are concerned about the laundering aspect, and here we deal with very intelligent people, foolish people can’t launder, Mehta added.

Countering Chidambaram’s lawyer Abhishek Singhvi’s argument that the former minister’s arrest was only for humiliation, humiliation, humiliation, the Solicitor General said it’s only for “prevention, prevention, prevention”.

The top court is hearing the case filed by the ED against the 73-year-old leader, who is accused of laundering money through a web of shell companies. The probe agency has accused Chidambaram and his aides of creating “layers of money laundering web in a manner which is sufficient to make it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track the money trail of proceeds of crime.”

The case is linked to alleged irregularities in Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to the INX Media group for foreign investment to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Chidambaram was the finance minister.

The former finance minister had on Tuesday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court, denying ED allegations that he had bank accounts or properties abroad, purchased with money allegedly laundered in the INX-Media case.

“The petitioner submits on oath before this Hon’ble Court and even at risk of facing perjury, if found to be not stating the complete truth, that he has no account or any property abroad much less 17 accounts and 10 properties, as alleged by the Respondent ED”, the Congress leader said in the rejoinder affidavit. “Each and every asset owned by him has been disclosed in statutory filings and he has no asset other than the assets disclosed therein,” read the document.

The rejoinder was filed in response to the ED affidavit placed on record on Monday. ED stated it had found “17 benami foreign bank accounts” used for laundering money and 10 properties purchased with the money. Chidambaram and his co-conspirators “had accounts/valuable properties in Argentina, Austria, British Virgin Islands, France, Greece, Malaysia, Monaco, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and Sri Lanka,” the affidavit said.