CBI books Karti Chidambaram in visa scam, searches on in multiple locations


The central agency accuses Karti of facilitating visas in violation of rules to Chinese workers. Premises of his father, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram also searched

The central agency accuses Karti of facilitating visas in violation of rules to Chinese workers. Premises of his father, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram also searched

Special teams of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched simultaneous searches on the premises of Congress MP Karti P. Chidambaram, and his associates at multiple locations across the country early on Tuesday in connection with a visa scam that allegedly took place some years ago

The CBI registered a case against five accused, including Mr. Karti Chidambaram, private companies based at Mumbai, Punjab’s Mansa and so on, and unknown public servants and private persons.

Congress leader and Member of Parliament for Sivaganga in the Lok Sabha, Karti Chidambaram. File
| Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

It alleged the private company based at Mansa was in the process of establishing a 1980 MW thermal power plant in Punjab and the work was outsourced to a Chinese firm. Since the project was running behind schedule, the company tried to bring in more Chinese persons/professionals to the work site for which it needed project visas over and above the ceiling imposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

For this purpose, the company’s Mansa-based representative allegedly approached Mr. Karti Chidambaram through his close associate S. Bhaskara Raman in Chennai.

‘₹50 lakh bribe for backdoor entry’

A backdoor entry was devised to defeat the purpose of ceiling (maximum of Project visas permissible to the company’s plant) by granting permission to reuse 263 Project visas allotted to the Chinese company’s officials, the CBI said. The company officials submitted a letter to the MHA making the request and the same was approved within one month.

The investigative agency said “a bribe of ₹50 lakh was allegedly demanded by said private person based at Chennai through his close associate/front man which was paid by the said Mansa based private company.”

Searches were conducted at 10 places, including in Chennai, Mumbai, Koppal (Karnataka), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Mansa, and Delhi.

Others accused in the case were Bhaskara Raman, Vikas Makharia, representative of Mansa-based private company, M/s Talwandi Sabo Power Limited, Mansa (Punjab), M/s Bell Tools Limited, Mumbai, unknown public and private persons.

Mr Karti Chidambaram who is a Lok Sabha member from Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu, is already facing allegations of financial irregularities, including in the INX media case.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Karti Chidambaram posted a cryptic tweet wondering “how many times has it been?“

The CBI operation comes at a time when Mr. Chidambaram’s tenure comes to an end in the Rajya Sabha and he hopes to be re-nominated to the upper house from Tamil Nadu where the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has allotted one seat to its alliance partner, the Congress.

Mr. Chidambaram said in a tweet that the CBI team that searched his Chennai residence showed “me a FIR in which I am not named as an accused”. He also pointed out the timing of the action but did not specify the Rajya Sabha polls.

(With inputs from National Bureau)





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