Further increasing problems for former union minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambram, two directors of a shell company have revealed before the Enforcement Directorate that Karti Chidambaram is the actual owner and controller of the firm that had allegedly received kickbacks on his behalf.
According to the statements accessed by Economic Times, the directors of the company in question, Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Ltd. (ASCPL), Ravi Visvanathan and Padma Bhaskararaman, have told the ED that their role in the company was of nothing more than a rubber stamp and was just limited to signing invoices and documents on the instructions of Karti Chidambaram and S Bhaskararaman; as their positions were just “namesake”. S Bhaskararaman is Karti Chidambram’s chartered accountant and a co-accused in the INX Media case.
“Karti Chidambaram was the actual controller and owner of ASCPL because he was behind the decisions and businesses of ASCPL in association with S Bhaskararaman,” Ravi Visvanathan, one of the directors of the ASCPL has said. The other director Padma Bhaskararaman is the wife of Karti’s CA S Bhaskararaman and sister of Ravi Visvanathan.
Visvanathan also revealed that he purchased 1,000 shares of the company with the cash provided by Karti Chidambaram. “I became promoter, director and shareholder of 1,000 shares of Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt Ltd on the direction of Karti Chidambaram,” Vishvanathan added. He also pointed out that the first meeting to incorporate ASCPL was with Bhaskararaman and Karti Chidambaram.
According to the report by Economic Times, Vishvanathan also told the ED about the painting purchased by ASCPL were “unrelated to the real business” and were displayed at the office and residence of Karti Chidambaram in Chennai. ED has also raised questions over bill payments made by ASCPL for another company under ED scanner, Chess management group for allegedly receiving kickbacks on behalf of Karti Chidambaram for facilitating illegal approvals by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board while his father P Chidambram was the union finance minister.
On being questioned by the ED, Karti had said that he knew the directors very well and they were his friends, however, Karti had repeatedly denied any business relationship with ASCPL. The company, Advantage Strategic Consultancy Private Ltd. (ASCPL), is also under the scanner for allegedly paying certain expenses and travel bills of former union minister and Karti’s father, P Chidambaram.
Padma Bhaskararaman had reiterated claims made by Visvanathan and said that her husband managed the accounts of ASCPL on the instructions of Karti Chidambram. The two directors also claimed that under instructions from Karti Chidambaram and Bhaskararaman they did not appear before the agency despite repeated summons. The directors’ statements have been recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which are admissible in a court of law.